Caring For Your Eyes

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Cleaning Your Eyelids Can Preserve Meibomian Gland Health

eyehealthWe regularly wash our face, shower, brush our teeth and wash our hands, but, unfortunately, most of us do not take the same care of our eyelids. Caring for our lids on a regular basis, as children and adults, can go a long way to managing and possibly preventing MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction). In many cases, good lid hygiene is the first line of defense against MGD and for preventing the scratchy, burning and itchy sensation often associated with dry eye.

The Connection Between Dental Care and Eye Care

According to Caroline Blackie, OD, PhD, one of the foremost experts in MGD, “MGD is the gum disease of eye care.” It is not particularly exciting to talk about, but if we ignore it, it can build over time and it can take over your life. Exploring what we all know to be true about preventing gum disease or cavities provides a direct analogy to preventing MGD. Dentists prescribe preventative maintenance to avoid or minimize problems in the future. They don’t wait for dental plaque to cause cavities, inflammation and symptoms before they intervene. Preventative maintenance for eyelid health is much the same. We can administer preventative maintenance for the eyelids by doing the following:

1

Adopt good daily lid hygiene, blink awareness, and exercises to prevent the build up of debris on the eyelids which can block the gland openings.

2

Be proactive. Ask your Eye Care Professional to examine your Meibomian gland health before later stage MGD develops and causes dry eye.

3

A routine Meibomian gland evaluation should be standard practice when visiting your eye care professional to avoid MGD and ensure a stable tear film.

4

Find an Eye Care Professional who can assess both the function and structure of your Meibomian glands and who can treat MGD with LipiFlow®.

Blinking and Eye Lid Margin Health

When we blink, we activate the Meibomian glands in our eyelids to release and spread essential protective oils across the tear film on the eye surface. A complete healthy blink at the proper frequency helps to maintain ocular surface health and to prevent Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).

Partial and infrequent blinking are highly associated with reading and use of digital devices. Chronic use of digital devices can impair healthy gland function. Blink awareness and blink exercises can help our glands stay healthy with out giving up our digital devices.

Blink Eyes to prevent Dry Eyes

To promote healthy gland function, follow these simple steps on a regular basis:

  1. Close your eyes, squeeze your eyes closed, then relax the squeeze while keeping your eyes closed.
  2. Open your eyes and repeat this sequence 5 times in a row.
  3. Perform the exercises three to four times a day.
  4. Set a regular reminder or if you associate blink exercises other daily activities (e.g. using the rest room, eating, stepping away from your desk etc.)

Clean Your Eyelids And Your Teeth

Most of us grew up with our parents telling us to make sure we wash our face and brush our teeth. Why? Because keeping our face clean is essential to good hygiene, and brushing our teeth prevents the occurrence of plaque build-up, cavities and gum disease. Another natural part of our daily hygiene should be to clean our eyelids or, specifically, the lid margin. Cleaning the lid margin removes debris that can build up over time and contribute to gland obstruction, ultimately leading to MGD. Check with your Eye Care Professional for proper lid care, especially if after surgery or if other inflammation exists. To properly clean your lids:

Clean lower lid to avoid Dry Eye

 

Clean upper lid to avoid Dry Eye

 

  1. Wash your hands and moisten a cotton swab with mineral oil, petroleum jelly or saline.
  2. Using your thumb and index finger, squeeze off excess mineral oil, petroleum jelly or saline.
  3. Pull the lower lid down away from your eye to expose your lid margin. Visually divide the lower lid into three sections and gently scrub each section 5 times. (Photo 1)
  4. For upper lid scrubs, grasp the upper lid to expose the upper lid margin. Use the same technique as for lower lid scrubs. (Photo 2)
  5. If you experience any discomfort or pain, you should seek the advice of your eye care professional.