We know that Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, can play an undeniable role in dry eye disease and ocular discomfort. When Meibomian glands are unable to release their lipid-based oils into the tear film, our tears quickly evaporate and our eye is left feeling unnourished and uncomfortable. Part of guaranteeing that our Meibomian glands are working properly is to make sure they are clean, with no debris blocking the release of the oil. Lid hygiene is an important part of treating dry eye disease. While it can be tiresome, it can make an undeniable difference in symptoms of dryness. Read on to learn more about effective lid hygiene, and what steps you should be taking to keep your lids and lashes clean.
Keeping our eyelids and eyelashes free from debris is an important step in preventing Meibomian gland dysfunction. Optometrists commonly recommend adding eyelid scrubs to your daily routine as an effective way keep Meibomian glands clean and free from blockage. Many doctors recommend pre-packaged lid scrub options, which commonly contain anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory soaps that are gentle and safe enough to be used around the eye. These products are combined with warm water and rubbed along the eyelid margin, removing makeup, debris, skin flakes, and other unsavory substances from the eyelashes and lids. If these commercially prepared products are not an option for you, diluted baby shampoo and warm water may also be an effective approach. Ask your doctor for instructions and recommendations regarding successful lid scrub options.
Warm Compresses for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Occasionally, the oil inside the ducts of the Meibomian glands thickens up, making it more difficult to release. This can lead to blocked glands or an extremely cloudy tear film and can dramatically worsen the symptoms of dry eye disease. Warm compresses are part of an effective lid hygiene routine, and help this important oil in our Meibomian glands to maintain a proper consistency. When performing warm compresses, run a washcloth under hot water. The cloth should be noticeably warm, but not hot enough to burn your skin or damage your eyes. Then place the cloth on the eyelids for at least 10 minutes. Subbing the warm washcloth for a clean sock filled with rice is another option; microwave the rice-filled sock for about 30 seconds. When it is an appropriate heat, rest it on your closed eyes for at least 10 minutes. Products like the Brüder Mask are commercially prepared that are a viable option; these are ready to be microwaved and comfortably rest on the eyelids. No matter what method is used during your warm compresses, it is important to follow the heat application with a lid massage. By gently massaging the lids after the heat is removed, you are ensuring the oils are being properly broken up and released.
Stay Organized and Clean
Beyond lid scrubs and warm compresses, routine hygiene and cleanliness cannot be overlooked. Changing out makeup brushes, especially mascara applicators, is very important in preventing MGD. Additionally, using only clean washcloths, towels, and pillow cases can play a large role in keeping the lid margins clean and healthy, and preventing the accumulation of debris in the eyelashes.