A woman closes her eyes behind a mask as glowing light surrounds her.

Trying Low Level Light Therapy

I’ve struggled with meibomian gland dysfunction, also known as MGD, for many years and have tried an array of treatments. At my last eye exam, my eye doctor informed me of a newer treatment they had just added to their lineup, Equinox low level light therapy.

Since they were in a trial phase with the product manufacturer, they were offering a discount on treatment for a limited time. My doctor also said that they had been getting very positive feedback from their patients, so I figured it was worth a try.

What is low level light therapy?

Low level light therapy is a non-invasive therapy that applies different-colored LED lights to the eye area to treat dry eye. According to my optometrist, the red LED mask is supposed to help reduce inflammation and also help heat and release oils from the meibomian glands. The second mask has blue LEDs and is supposed to help with blepharitis and demodex.1

My optometrist recommended three treatment sessions, once per week. At my first treatment, the technician told me that the first phase was the red mask for 15 minutes, followed by the blue mask for another 15 minutes.

Undergoing it

They reclined the chair back and placed the red mask on my face. Since the lights are very bright, I was told to close my eyes before they put it on and to make sure that I don’t open my eyes until the treatment was over. The mask was a full-face mask with cutouts for the nose and mouth held on by an adjustable strap around the head.

Unfortunately, I have a very small face and head, so lining up the lights over my eyes meant that my nose got crushed a little bit. I held the bottom edge of the mask to ease the weight on my nose and it was still slightly uncomfortable, but not terrible.

Once the treatment started, I could see the light changing through my closed eyelids. It slowly increased in brightness and temperature, vacillating up and down toward the end of the treatment.

Next up

Next up was the blue mask. This one was only a half mask, like a sleep mask, so my nose was thankful. The same procedure followed: keeping my eyes closed when they put in on and keeping them closed through the whole procedure. This mask didn’t seem to get quite as warm as the first, but still radiated some heat.

After the second mask was taken off and I opened my eyes, my vision was a little bit weird and everything looked purple and green. At least it only took me about 5 to 10 minutes for my eyes to readjust. The next two appointments were just the same.

Did it help?

So, did it help? I don’t know. I personally didn’t feel like there was much improvement after the treatment. To me, heat on my eyes always feels good while it’s there, but I didn’t notice an increase in oils or a reduction in blepharitis afterward.

Will I try it again? Probably not. Even discounted, it was in the $100’s of dollars and not covered by insurance. Do I regret trying it? Nope! Even if it didn’t bring the dry eye relief I wanted, trying new therapies seems worth the effort to find something that does work well for me.

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