IPL Implies Higher Risk for Serious Eye-Injury than Laser

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IPL Implies Higher Risk for Serious Eye-Injury than Laser

PostPosted by DCNGA » Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:24 pm

IPL technology has pretty much stayed the same in the last five years, unlike other lasers that have morphed over time. IPL is IPL is IPL. What damage it might have caused back in 2005 to bring about this article is still applicable today.

From 2005


IPL Implies Higher Risk for Serious Eye-Injury than Laser

Lasers are potentially less dangerous to the naked eye than IPL, as recently reported to the 23rd ASLMS meeting.

IPL Implies Higher Risk for Serious Eye-Injury than Laser

The safety and welfare of our Fotona laser system users, their staff and patients, especially when it comes to eye-safety, is a primary concern to us. In the various system operator manuals, application notes and clinical training sessions Fotona provides eye- safety and wearing the appropriate eye protection goggles are frequently highlighted. With this in mind, we would like to bring your attention to a report on the very real eye injury risks implied when using IPL. In 2003, Fotona reported on a study published during the 23rd ASLMS Annual Meeting (ASLM, page 6, paper 18, supplement 15, 2003), which calls for more stringent safety rules to be associated with the use of IPL. Even after 2 years the industry has still not properly addressed the eye safety issue with IPL nor has an appropriate and functional solution been found.

Call for Stricter Eye-Safety Regulations for IPL Devices

IPL devices emit a very broad wavelength spectrum of strong, high-energy light that, although not as selective as lasers, is absorbed in different target tissues for applications ranging from hair removal to skin rejuvenation. In the very beginning, these devices gained much popularity because of their low cost, wide range of applications and unwarranted labeling as simple light devices that pose no danger to the eye. However, the clinical report mentioned above shows that IPL devices do pose a significant risk in terms of eye injury and calls for the eye-safety regulation of these devices to be reviewed. The analysis of IPL eye safety in the report reveals as follows. If an IPL light pulse is fired from a distance of 20 cm against an open eye, the MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) in the cornea is exceeded by more than 4000 times. (The MPE is the limit above which permanent eye-injury can occur). Contrary to popular belief IPL intensities can thus be regarded as dangerous to the eye. In addition, non-coherent IPL light is not focused on the retina and a much larger area of the retina may be damaged. Laser light is coherent, and thus extremely focused, consequently only damaging an extremely small area (sometimes even going unnoticed) in cases of direct unprotected eye exposure. Thus IPL exposure to the retina could realistically cause much more damage to a larger area, even resulting in blindness. IPL devices thus imply a much higher risk for eye-injury than a laser realistically would, with much more serious consequences. Even more so, since lasers operate at a specific wavelength effective, highly transparent eye-protection goggles are available for each specific wavelength, thus guaranteeing eye-safety if used correctly. IPL, on the other hand, emits light in a broader spectrum for which no effective eye-safety goggles exist, since the visibility through such wide spectrum goggles would inherently be very low. So, although lasers do pose a risk for eye-injury, by following a simple set of easy safety rules and using appropriate safety eye wear, the realistic risk for eye injury is virtually non-existent. On the contrary, IPL continuous to pose an eye safety threat, not only to the physician, but also operating room staff and patient, because no adequately functional and all IPL wavelength encompassing safety eye wear exists.

Put the Safety of Your Practitioner, Their Staff and the Patient First

Previously we have highlighted that it is impossible for IPL to match the specificity of laser in treatments. In addition, in order to achieve the same effects with IPL in deeper skin layers as with Nd:YAG, IPL requires more energy and almost twice as much heat is deposited onto the surface skin layers, leading to unnecessary damage of the epidermis. IPL is more attracted to melanin because of its shorter wavelength range, and thus IPL's use is limited to darker skin types and increases the risk of superficial burns in tanned patients. We also highlighted that the purchasing and running costs of more advanced IPL systems have increased significantly, because more sophisticated cooling systems are required to avoid unwanted side effects. And basic math showed that an IPL flashlamp would need to be replaced approximately every 2 weeks in a successful hair removal salon. The above efficacy and efficiency issues related to IPL are good points to bring up with potential customers who are still in doubt of which light technology to use. But to conclude, we feel that serious and realistic eye-safety issue we have addressed above needs to be clearly communicated if you put the safety of your valued practitioners, their staff and patients first.

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