When taking care of your body, many people forget about their eyes. If you have good eyesight, you might not even remember when your last eye doctor appointment was. Eyes should receive the same care and consideration that we give to all the other parts of our body. After all, eyes are one of the most important connections we have to the rest of the world. Eyesight isn’t the only factor to consider when assessing the health of your eyes. By overlooking eyelid and eyelash hygiene, you also risk problems that may occur later in life – problems that you can avoid with a little effort. We recommend you think of eye care the way you think of dental care. Routine do-it-yourself will offset the frequency of visiting a eye care professional, as well as help to ensure your good eyesight lasts a lifetime.
Lid hygiene can be incorporated into anyone’s routine hygiene to improve ocular comfort and health. It is also a simple way to alleviate the problems of allergic conjunctivitis, seborrheic blepharitis, chronic conjunctivitis, and chalazion. Blepharitis, cysts and styes represent an attack on the accumulated oil secretions of the lid glands. The normal secretions are released through small pores in front of the lashes of the eyelid. In some people, these secretions accumulate and lead to many different problems. The key to treating all of these problems is to clear the lid margins of these built up secretions. Lid hygiene is the means to achieve this end.
Proper lid hygiene begins with a warm soak of the eyelids. With a warm, wet washcloth, heat your lids with gentle pressure allowing time for all the oils and glands in the lids to soften/melt. This usually takes approximately two to three minutes with a relatively hot (don’t burn yourself!) compress or up to 10 minutes in more severe/neglected cases. Washcloths may not stay warm long enough for this, but you can also use a rice pack, potato, or commercially made eye mask if needed. Next, wash your face with a gentle soap, with special attention shown to the eye area (do not get soap in your eyes directly). Diluted baby shampoo can be used close to the eyes with less chance of irritation, or commercial eye cleansing products may be recommended by your doctor in moderate to severe cases. Then, mechanical massage and scrubbing of the lids should be performed with a clean finger or cotton swab to remove any crusting or debris. Make-up should be thoroughly removed. This regimen done regularly (once or twice a day) will ensure cleanliness and good, even flow of moisture and oils to your tears and eyes. This will improve your eyes’ comfort significantly, and can be healing in cases of ongoing lid irritation and inflammation.
Only a few minutes of effort each day can lead to dramatic results, often without the need for prescription medication or other expensive treatments.