Looking for another way to make your eyes comfortable without breaking the bank? a critical first step is to perform warm compress twice daily. You can start today with materials you may already have.
If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen us discuss meibomian glands. They’re oil glands on our lids that provide lubrication and keep our tears from evaporating too quickly. The glands are almost imperceptible when healthy, secreting at the consistency of olive oil.
When unhealthy, the oil hardens and can “cap” at the gland surface. This inhibits normal function so tears aren’t as lubricated and they evaporate quickly – leading to the discomfort of dry eye.
A first-line treatment for this condition is to perform a warm compress at least twice daily. There are many ways to do this, but the process is pretty uniform; use something to heat the lids, gently massage your lids after heating, then clean the lid surface. The heat liquifies the clogged oil in the glands and the massage helps gently express the liquified oil.
Grab a clean washcloth, run it under the sink, then ring it out so it’s damp, but not dripping wet. Place it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It should be notably warm, but not hot. If you can’t hold it in your hand for more than a few seconds, it’s too hot and shouldn’t be placed on your face for risk of burn.
If warm, close your eyes and gently lay the washcloth over your lids. Lean back and let the washcloth warm up your glands. The washcloth will only retain its heat for 2-3 minutes. At this point, gently massage your upper and lower lids. The video below gives a great demonstration on how to do this. It’s from 1:25-1:51 (video should be queued up to the massage section ). The massage process is the same regardless of which compress method you choose.
Sock & Rice
This method is will retain heat much better than a washcloth and that alone makes it a preferred method. However, there are drawbacks. Although the video below is discussing styes, know that styes are generally caused by backed up glands and unclean lid surfaces.
The obvious drawback is it’s for one eye only. Now, you could use more rice and make one large enough to cover both eyes, but you will lose contact over the bridge of your nose. Furthermore, while functional, this method isn’t great for long-term use.
The most popular choice for warm compress is the Bruder Mask. Created specifically for dry eye treatment, the Bruder Mask gives about 10 minutes of sustained heat, critical for appropriate liquefaction of the oil in your glands. We prefer the Bruder Mask because it has straps that keep the mask on so I can stay upright rather than lying down. You can find a Bruder Mask at some pharmacies or Amazon.com.
So while you can start doing a warm compress today with some things you have around the house, you may need to consider getting a mask to make the process more efficient and comfortable – especially if your case of dry eye is particularly bothersome.
Cleaning your lids
Once you’ve done the compress AND the lid massage, the final step is to clean your lids. There are many ways to do this, but we will cover the two most popular. The first is to use baby shampoo and a cotton swab as shown in the video below:
Another option is to use a product specifically designed to clean your lids. One that we like here at The Dry Eye Institute of Arizona is OcuSoft Lid Scrubs and can be used as seen below:
It’s important to note that there is no cure for dry eye and warm compresses may be required indefinitely. But you may be able to reduce the frequency at which you perform them once you get improvement with the underlying condition.
Need help with these procedures and have questions? Or maybe you’ve already done warm compress and your case of dry eye needs more specialized care. Call us today and schedule a dry eye consultation and we can discuss your case in detail.