The products you use around your eyes play an important part in your eye health. Similar to brushing your teeth daily, eye hygiene and removal of make-up is essential. We all react to products on our skin differently and for those of us who are more sensitive, hypo-allergenic products are preferable. For those with dry eyes or contact lens wearers, it is particularly important to develop healthy habits with eye hygiene.
Eye make-up products; whether they are applied to our eyelashes or around our eyes, affect different anatomical parts of the eye. Below are some tips for different eye make-up application.
-Eyeliner. When using eyeliner, be mindful that application on the waterline (inner eyelid) can block the meibomian glands (see image 1) and contaminate the eye 1. A study done in the Faculty of Science at Waterloo found that within 5 minutes, 15-30% more make-up particles were found in the tear film when eyeliner was applied to the waterline, compared to application outside of this 1. Our meibomian glands secrete the lipid layer of our tears which stop our tears from evaporating and thus it is important that these glands are open and functioning. Shortly after application of eyeliner, there are demonstrated changes to the tear film and its stability 2.
Eyeliner application if used, should avoid the waterline to reduce its effect on our tears.
Image 1. Layers of tears.
-Eyeshadow. This is applied further from the glands and inner structures of the eyes, however certain types of eye shadows that smear easily, may also end up in your tear film. Studies show that this product in addition to mascara, can cause the greatest discomfort amongst many cosmetic products 3. Contact lens wearers should also be mindful that eyeshadow may deposit on their contact lenses and this should be avoided 3.
-Mascara. This is a common make-up item that needs to be changed regularly. Our skin has normal bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus and some people may have a build-up of bacteria on their eyelashes termed ‘anterior blepharitis’. A maximum of 3-month use of a mascara wand before replacement is important to reduce harbouring bacteria 4. When your optometrist performs a slit lamp microscopy exam, they look at your lashes for signs of blepharitis. If this is present, you may need an additional eyelid cleaner such as an antibacterial foam, which is used to scrub your lids and lashes at least once per day. Research has demonstrated that mascara can also cause pigmentation inside the eye at the lacrimal sac (part of the duct to the lacrimal system which contains anatomical structures used for tear production and drainage) 5.
-Anti-ageing eye creams. These creams are often applied around the eyes. Research shows that the retinoids present in these eye creams can negatively affect meibomian gland function (the glands which secrete the oil in our tears), and potentially contribute to dry eye disease 2. Studies investigating the effect of systemic isotretinoin on animal models demonstrated signs of blepharitis and meibomian gland ductal epithelium thickening, as well as decreased mature gland acini, which contribute to the lipid (oily) layer of our tears 2. There was also reduction in the number and size of meibomian gland acini (see image 2) 2. Human studies of those taking systemic isotretinoin for acne also demonstrated dry eye symptoms, blepharitis and Meibomian gland dysfunction. The lacrimal gland, which secretes the aqueous tears, also releases isotretinoin. “The potential impact of the usage of anti-aging facial and eye creams and gels on developing meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye syndrome is great” 2.
Image 2. A single meibomian gland has clustered acini that secrete meibum. (Knop et al, 2011.)
• Pigmented products used over many years, may accumulate in the conjunctivae and the lacrimal system 2,6. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane forming most of the surface of the eye – the white part of the eye you see in the mirror.
• Cosmetic products may also cause contact lens spoliation 2.
Removal of make-up before going to sleep is essential. Water alone cannot effectively remove cosmetic products, whereas surfactants in cosmetic removal products dissolve and alter the solubility of oils and waxes found in make-up 2. Note that water-proof mascara is removed best by oils, so investing in an oil-based make-up remover is beneficial 2. Oil-free make-up removal products have different surfactant concentrations which are good at removing cosmetics, however may solubilize the sebum in the eyelids and irritate the skin around your eyes 2. Your optometrist has eye-lid wipes and antibacterial foams that may also be used for make-up removal, particularly for those with dry/sensitive eyes.
The Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS 2) latest report notes that exposure to cosmetic products, many of which contain toxic products, can elicit dry eye symptoms 7. For those with very sensitive eyes and/ or moderate to severe dry eyes, your optometrist may recommend avoiding eye make-up.
**Take home messages **
• The best way to ensure no additional irritation of the eyes, dry eyes and deposits on your contact lenses is to avoid eye make-up.
• When make-up is applied, avoid the inner part of the eye, particularly the waterline, as this can affect your tears and cause irritation.
• Retinoids present in anti-ageing creams and gels can contribute to dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction.
• Ensure you have a good make-up remover that you use before going to sleep.
• Ensure all make-up products are changed regularly and that make-up brushes are washed regularly too.
• Your optometrist examines the health of your eye with a slit lamp microscope and can detect signs of cosmetic products depositing on the eye, tear film and/or your contact lenses.
1. Alison Ng, Katharine Evans, Rachel V. North, Christine Purslow. Migration of Cosmetic Products into the Tear Film. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, 2015; DOI: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000124
2. Alison Ng, Katharine Evans, Rachel V. North, Christine Purslow. Impact of Eye Cosmetics on the Eye, Adnexa, and Ocular Surface. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, 2016. 42(4): 211-220. DOI: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000181
3. Gao Y & Kanengiser BE. Categorical evaluation of the ocular irritancy of cosmetic and consumer products by human ocular instillation procedures. J Cosmet Sci 2004; 55: 317– 325.
4. Pack LD et al. (2008). Microbial contamination associated with mascara use. Optometry. Oct;79(10):587-93. doi: 10.1016/j.optm.2008.02.011.
5. Clifford, Luke & Jeffrey, M & Maclean, H. (2011). Lacrimal sac pigmentation due to mascara. Eye (London, England). 25. 397-8. 10.1038/eye.2010.209.
6. Ciolino, Joseph & M Mills, David & R Meyer, Dale. (2009). Ocular Manifestations of Long-Term Mascara Use. Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. 25. 339-41. 10.1097/IOP.0b013e3181ab443e.
7. Gomes, J et al. (2017_. TFOS DEWS II iatrogenic report. Ocul Surf. Jul;15(3):511-538. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2017.05.004.
I’m sure most of us can relate to having experienced some sort of seasonal allergy when Spring and Summer comes around. For some it’s a mild case of hayfever, whereas for others, it can be a struggle getting through those months. Besides the constant runny nose and sneezing, seasonal allergies also have a large effect on our eyes – from watery eyes to allergic conjunctivitis.
Macular Degeneration Awareness week is here. To raise awareness we invite you, your family, your friends – anyone over 50 – to come in and spend 10 minutes with one of our Optometric Assistants (who are mostly QUT optometry students) for a free macular health screening and discussion using our cutting edge technology. We’ll be offering this service until the end of May – please call us on 3210 1822 to set a time with us. (Note this is not a full eye exam – we recommend a comprehensive eye exam at least every 2 years.)
– An eye exam can save your sight
– 1 in 7 Australians over 50 have some evidence of MD
– You have a 50% chance with a direct family history
– You can have the early signs without knowing
– Diet and lifestyle changes support good macular health.
Book in a short screening today, or a full eye exam with one of our optometrists to understand the whole picture of your risks for MD.
A gold coin donation for the Macular Degeneration Foundation will be appreciated.
Did you know Gerry & Johnson Optometrists are involved in clinical in-practice and international research projects?
Kate is busy working on her PhD, researching the optics of OrthoK and eye muscle coordination, which is due to be completed in July. All of the data for this research was collected from the practice, with our special PhD participants being involved in the key data collection phase from 2014 to 2016.
Kate and Paul are also working on an international research collaboration which will measure signs of UV damage and their effect on reading focus across a number of countries.
Kate & Paul returned back from a trip to Las Vegas in January to give presentations & learn about the latest treatments with contact lenses at the Global Specialty Lens Symposium Conference.
Paul (pictured above) is directing a new set of contact lens studies investigating new designs, for which we have been recruiting QUT School of Optometry students, who get to learn about contact lenses while participating in research. One day in February, we had 10 participants in the practice until 8pm that night trialing three different types of soft lenses for fit and comfort differences. We fed them pizza to show our appreciation!
On Saturday 11th February Kate, along with her husband Paul and stepson Jack, started on the Overland Track in Tasmania. After a long day climbing a mountain and trekking along thin boards in horizontal freezing rain, they were descending earth/stone steps only 15 minutes from the conclusion of the day’s walking, when Kate rolled her ankle outwards and heard a pop. Yuk. A fractured fibula.
She got a free helicopter ride to Hobart and also enjoyed her first ambulance and wheelchair ride, and now has 6 weeks in a cast. It was an adventure; just not quite the adventure she’d hoped!
If you’ve ever had crutches before you’ll know they’re mega tiring to use, so our wonderful staff will be escorting you to and from Kate’s consultation room, and Kate will also be asking some help from her colleague optometrists Felicity and Natalie.
Thank you for your patience while Kate’s mobility is impaired over the next several weeks.
VOSH International is a volunteer group that brings eye examinations and glasses to those who cannot afford eye health care in developing countries around the world. I was lucky enough to have embarked on their mission to Tecalitlan, a small town in Mexico, in November last year. The mission group included 3 Optometrists from USA and Canada, 7 optometry students from the Queensland University of Technology (including myself), 9 optometry students from the Illinois College of Optometry and several volunteers who helped in pre-testing, dispensing and translating.
Collectively, we saw over 3500 patients over 8 days with approximately 2800 patients requiring glasses. I had seen more eye disease and other ocular conditions in these 8 days than I had ever seen in Australia. Almost every patient had visible sun damage to their eyes (pterygiums and pingueculae), a large percentage of the aging patients had advanced cataracts, many had high blood pressure and diabetes with consequent damage to their retina (some were advanced and needed urgent attention), along with untreated glaucoma and macular degeneration. It was also very common to see patients with immensely high uncorrected vision, and not being able to afford glasses meant that they have lived their entire lives not knowing clear vision until the day we gave them glasses. Almost all of these patients were unaware of the current state of their eye health, all they knew was that their vision was deteriorating and they never understood why.
We live in a first world country where the luxury of health care is so easily accessible. Rarely would any of these conditions be seen so advanced in their time course due to preventative therapy, early detection and access to effective and safe treatment options. Not only was this trip incredibly eye opening, but it was also very humbling to witness how these people could be so happy and content despite the little that they had. I can honestly say that this trip had taught me so much more than I could ever imagine, and not only in the aspect of optometry, but also from the people. I will always be grateful for this experience and could only hope that our time in Tecalitlan has helped change the lives of the people we saw for the better.
For more information on VOSH International and their mission, please visit http://vosh.org/. You can also do your part to help by donating to the cause, every little bit helps!
Eating carrots helps you see in the dark.
True! Carrots are full of vitamin A which is a precursor to an important chemical substance used by the light sensitive cells in the retina (the rods) for vision in low light / night time. If you are deficient in vitamin A, you can have problems with night vision.
Did you know that contact lenses are not just used for vision correction? There are many special applications of contact lenses – some of them are quite surprising!
I recently saw a patient with a badly scarred and blind eye. He was uncomfortable with the way the eye looks especially in photos so was wondering whether there was anything he could do to improve the cosmesis! We’ve all seen the wacky cosmetic coloured contact lenses (cat’s eyes anyone?) but what if you just want a ‘normal’ looking eye? Well, prosthetic contact lenses are the answer. I decided to fit my patient with a hand painted soft prosthetic contact lens with a black pupil – it is painted as an exact match to his uninjured eye! The result is quite impressive! Check out the before and after photos (consent obtained to share images)
Contact lenses are also commonly used as bandages or barriers for people who suffer from recurrent corneal problems or if their eyelashes grow in the wrong direction. The contact lens protects the surface of the eye and prevents scratches, abrasions and even opportunistic infections.
We’ve all heard about the importance of wearing hats and using sunscreen to protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. But how can we protect our eyes? Sunglasses offer some of the best ocular protection from UV light but blocking the harmful rays from reaching the delicate tissue of our eyes. Most sunglasses block (category 2 and 3) block more than 95% of UV radiation. Keep in mind that the colour or the darkness of the lens tint does not indicate how much UV is blocked so always check the tag/label to determine the level of protection.
Some prescription spectacle lenses also block UV light. At Gerry & Johnson Optometrists, all of our prescription lenses block 100% of both UVA and UVB light to protect our eyes from the early development of eye disease. The UV protective treatments are applied on the front and back surface of the lens, as around half of UV light entering the eye is reflected from the back surface of the lens.
Some contact lenses also offer UV protection. Although sunglasses can efficiently block the UV radiation coming directly from the sun, they may fall short elsewhere. Unless the frame is designed to wrap the face like a pair of goggles, sunglasses block very little of the obliquely incident UV radiation (as seen in the figure below). Peripheral UV radiation has been shown to be a particular threat to eye health due to the phenomenon of peripheral light focussing (PLF), where oblique light is refracted by the peripheral cornea and focused at the nasal limbus (white part of the eye towards the nose).
PLF has been shown to play a significant role in the development of pterygium and some forms of cataract. Since soft contact lenses cover the cornea and land just past the limbus on the white of the eye, they are able to protect the eye more completely. Also, as contact lenses are worn generally for significantly longer periods of time than sunglasses, they are able to provide continuous protection against UV.
The benefits of UV light
At the risk of confusing the issue, did you know that UV light is not all bad!? In small amounts, UV radiation is actually a benefit to the human body. UV radiation is required for the synthesis of vitamin D which is needed for the growth and maintenance of strong healthy bones. UV light has also been shown to be beneficial for the eyes as research shows that it has a myopia control effect. Myopia, or short-sightedness, is fast becoming one of the major vision problems around the world. Even small degrees of myopia significantly increase a person’s risk of eye health complications such as glaucoma, cataract and retinal detachment. Research suggests that the protective effect of UV radiation involves the light-dependent release of dopamine in the retina. Dopamine has been shown to inhibit axial elongation (increases in eye length) which leads to myopia development and also progression. The amount of UVR required for good health is easily gained by spending approximately ten minutes outside each day in ambient light. So for any outdoor activities, especially over the summer (think the beach, pool and shopping days!) remember to wear protective eyewear and clothing!
If you haven’t already, check out last week’s blog on the known health effects of UV!
Bergmanson, P.G., Sӧderber, P.G. The significance of ultraviolet radiation for eye diseases. A review with comments on the efficacy of UV-blocking contact lenses. Ophthalmic Phys Optics. 2002; 15(2): 83-91.
Sliney, D.H. Photoprotection of the eye – UV radiation and sunglasses. J Photochem Photobiol B: Biol. 2001; 64(2-3); 166-175.