Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is frequently encountered by eye care practitioners. It is characterised by obstruction of the Meibomian glands and/or alterations in the consistency of glandular secretions. At present, no definitive treatment exists for this condition. The present meta-analysis was performed to assess the efficacy of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy in the management of MGD. Databases including EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane Central, MEDLINE and Google Scholar were systematically searched to identify clinical trials that assessed the efficacy of IPL in the treatment of MGD. Outcome measures were described as the standardized mean difference (SMD). The fixed- or random-effects model was selected for analysis based on the Cochrane I values representing heterogeneity. Publication bias was visually inspected using Begg’s funnel plot. Data were synthesized from four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comprising 122 subjects in the IPL group and 120 subjects in the control group. Pooled analysis indicated no statistically significant difference in the Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness (SPEED) scores between the two groups [SMD -0.16 (95% CI, -0.41 to 0.10)] but a significant increase in Non-Invasive Tear Break-Up Time (NIBUT) scores in the IPL group (SMD, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.40-1.40). To conclude, the results of the present study did not provide any conclusive evidence for the efficacy of IPL therapy in the management of MGD. The analysis indicated that IPL therapy may result in an improvement of objective NIBUT scores but has no effect on subjective SPEED scores. Given the limited number of studies performed to date, there is a requirement for more well-designed prospective RCTs with a larger sample size to provide further evidence on the efficacy of IPL therapy.
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