When we think about feeling clean and fresh, we may consider the time we spend brushing and flossing our teeth or using oral rinse for minty-fresh breath. Hygiene, for most of us, involves face-washing and removing makeup, it involves showering, laundering and washing our hands before cooking or eating. These are all very good, and very necessary, practices. The thing is, they do very little for the eyes, and it matters.
If you’ve ever had to endure the sting of a nasty eye infection, you know how inconvenient and unpleasant this can be. Even before the gritty pain of infection, though, are symptoms that may indicate the eyelids are not as clean as they should be. What may feel like dry eyes may be blepharitis, a condition of inflammation along the rim where the eyelid and the ocular surface meet. Usually, we think of eye infections as a fluke, a consequence of being unlucky enough to come face to face with some aggressive germs. Inflammation may occur much more easily than we imagine.
The eyelids are not just pieces of skin that protect the ocular surface of the eyes; they are made of two different types of skin, multiple hair follicles, and glands that moisten and nourish the eyes’ surface. The more complex structure means more potential for problems, and problems are what we get if the lids of our eyes are not clean. Often, what happens is that debris and oil around the lashes at the lid-margin trap bacteria that passes from the hands to the eyes. The longer bacteria remain around the hair follicles of the eyelashes, the more opportunity there is for inflammation.
Healthy, Comfortable Eyes Come Easy
As easy as it is for inflammation and infection to occur due to unhealthy conditions at the lid-margin, it is just as easy to prevent these problems from developing or going too far. Eyelid hygiene consists of simple, practical steps such as washing makeup off before bed and replacing cosmetics as recommended (every six months or so). Direct eyelid hygiene may only need to consist of a period application of a moist, warm cloth over the eyes. After a few minutes of heat, the eyes can be gently wiped with the cloth.
Ideally, a condition such as blepharitis can be prevented. If the gritty, painful sensations of inflammation or infection do occur, contact your Central Florida ophthalmologist for prompt, conservative treatment.