Last post, we discussed how cosmetics can interfere with our ocular hygiene. This post we will discuss a couple of ways everyone can improve ocular hygiene.
- Warm compress – As mentioned last time, we have important glands (Meibomian glands) that line our eyelids. Keeping these glands open and working properly is essential. The oil (or Meibum) from the glands can become hard and difficult to express at times. This can lead to symptoms consistent with dry eye. Your eyelids are one of the coldest parts of your body due to their relative thin tissue and minimal blood supply. Imagine a stick of butter in the refrigerator; it is solid and cold. When you place it in a hot frying pan, it melts and coats the pan. In the same way, the WARM allows the Meibum to flow and the COMPRESS expresses the Meibum out of the glands so it can coat the eye.
- Applying the heat can be with warm shower water or a warm wash cloth. You will notice the warm wash cloth may only stay heated for maybe 30 seconds and you will have to repeat. There are other ways to retain the heat for a longer period of time. Masks with Flax seeds or medical grade beads are available commercially. Some home remedies include wrapping the wash cloth around baked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, or heating rice in a sock. The point is to keep enough heat to melt the Meibum, but not too much to blister the skin of your eyelid.
- The compress is important to express the glands by pushing down on the upper lids and up on the lower lids. Not too hard to cause physical pain but enough to get the glands expressed. The expression of the glands can be done in-office with specialized tools, but most patients do not tend to need that in depth of treatment.
- Lipiflow is a device that most proficiently performs this procedure under 15 minutes using heat with compressions from a device fitted between your eyelids and the eye itself. Insurance does not cover it, but it has been shown to provide dry eye relief for over 1 year. We are in the process of getting this treatment available in our office. More information to follow.
- Eyelid Scrubs – These are commercially available and provide a safe and tear-free soap on a disposable pad to help clean the eyelids and eyelashes. You can accomplish the same goals with other soaps but you may notice that a lot of them may burn your eyes. General recommendations include baby shampoos or diluted tea tree oil. These treatments will keep the glands clean and clear. Also, it will prevent the build of a parasite called Demodex. There are some great pictures online that will scare you into using some version of the scrubs on a daily basis.
Try to incorporate some parts of warm compress and eyelid scrubs into your daily routine. As always, let us know if you need to schedule an appointment, and we will see you then.