With the rise of digital work and education, each day we become more likely to develop dry eye symptoms. Digital eye strain is common among those who spend long hours in front of screens, and can make dry eyes more uncomfortable, leading doctors and patients to seek new ways to manage symptoms.
Eyelid hygiene can help relieve dry eye symptoms by clearing away debris and oil that causes irritation and inflammation. But before you start forcefully scrubbing your eyes with face wash, talk to your optometry team to get tips to gently remove residue from your eyelids safely.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
A little eye discomfort from time to time is normal, but if it persists, you may not realize you’re struggling with dry eye disease. In fact, many don’t recognize their cluster of symptoms or discuss it with their eye care team. Talk with your optometrist if you’re experiencing symptoms like:
- Eye redness
- Scratchiness or grittiness, particularly when you blink
- Feeling like there’s a foreign particle in your eye
- Excessive tears
- Eye discomfort
- Burning or stinging sensation
Your optometry team can help you find treatment and offer preventative advice, like proper eyelid hygiene tips.
Causes of Dry Eye
Most often, dry eye results from problems with the tear film. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) disrupts the oil production that makes up a key part of your tear film. When clogged or blocked meibomian glands limit the production of oil, your eyes become dry. But there are other causes of dry eye as well, including:
- Dirt and particle buildup on the lash line
- Insufficient blinking
- Medical conditions or medications
- Environmental conditions
Blepharitis & Eyelid Health
Blepharitis is a common condition that occurs when the eyelids become inflamed, swollen, red, and irritated. It can also contribute to dry eye symptoms, such as:
- Burning or stinging eyes
- Watery eyes
- Feeling like there’s something in your eye
- Light sensitivity
You can also experience other common blepharitis symptoms, including:
- Swollen eyelids
- Foamy tears
- Crusty eyelids or lashes
Typically, blepharitis develops from bacteria at the base of your eyelashes, near the follicle. Some level of bacteria is normal, but you can experience clogged oil glands and unusual eyelash growth if too much bacteria grows.
The Importance of Keeping Eyelids Clean
Eyelid hygiene is critical for overall eye health. Washing your eyelids limits buildup, reduces inflammation, and removes germs from growing on the lash line. This tiny strip along the edges of your eyelids can get pretty dirty.
Your eyelashes function to catch dust, debris, or foreign particles from falling into the eye and causing injury or infection. If the dust, germs, and makeup are left behind on the eyelid and block oil production, an unbalanced tear film can lead to corneal damage from lack of lubrication, insufficient nourishment, or other problems.
How to Clean Your Eyelids
Cleaning your eyelids can be a simple addition to your routine. Your eye care team can recommend cleansers during your comprehensive eye exam to suit your eyes and surrounding skin.
Pre-packaged, moistened, and sterile single-use wipes are available for convenience. They’re sealed in a gentle cleansing solution, individually wrapped, and if you’re traveling or want a one-step system, eyelid wipes can be a low-maintenance option.
You can make your own gentle eyelid cleanser using mild, all-natural baby shampoo mixed with warm water and a cotton swab or washcloth. Some baby shampoos may not be appropriate for your eyelid cleanser, so visit your optometrist to get recommendations and instructions before you try a home remedy.
Diluted Tea Tree Oil Solution
Tea tree oil is a well-known anti-inflammatory and cleanser. Standard tea tree oil is far too strong for use around your eyes, so you have to dilute it with other oils or water until the strength of the tea tree oil is 1 part, or 25% of the mixture.
If you don’t want to mix your own cleansers, scrubs without the wipes are available. There are often various options, so your optometrist can recommend the best one to target your symptoms.
Some of these scrubs come in a jar, so use a clean cotton swab or washcloth to avoid spreading germs from your eye to the product.
Don’t Suffer Through Dry Eye Symptoms
Proper eyelid hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy and comfortable eyes. By neglecting eyelid hygiene, we open ourselves up to a range of eye conditions such as dry eyes, infections, and irritation. That’s why visiting the eye care team at San Clemente Optometry is crucial.
Our team can give you an accurate diagnosis to help you effectively manage and treat the symptoms. We also provide customized solutions, such as education on proper eyelid hygiene techniques, which can help prevent future dry eye symptoms from occurring. Schedule an eye exam with our friendly team today.