Dry eye heat therapy masks and why temperature, duration and more matter
When your eye care professional recommends the use of heat therapy masks for your eyes, it is not just to bring a sense of comfort and relaxation. Heat therapy is a proven route to relief from the symptoms of dry eye. But what you may not know is the temperature needs to be a certain level for a defined period of time and this form of treatment suits certain types of dry eye more than others. If your chosen mask does not tick all the boxes it will not help those tired, sore, dry feeling peepers.
Here is what you need to know about dry eye heat therapy to help you choose the right eye mask and get the very best results.
What exactly is the heat doing?
Dry eye symptoms occur when you do not produce the quality or quality of tears required to cover and protect the delicate surface of the eye. This ‘tear-film’ is made up of three layers, the outer most consisting of a thin layer of an oily substance called meibum. This meibum layer helps to reduce the rate of moisture evaporation from your tears, without it your eyes will soon start to feel dry, tired and irritated.
The use of heat on the eyelids is designed to help this oil flow more easily into the eye to improve the quality of your tears.
Will heat help all types of dry eye?
Heat is most effective when used as a therapy to manage meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). This type of dry eye is very common, accounting for estimates of up to almost 70% of cases, and results in the meibum glands becoming blocked and the meibum itself changing from a consistency similar to olive oil to one more akin to toothpaste!! If you look at the edge of your eyelid you might even see tiny white caps which are an indication of MGD.
What temperature is best?
A lot of research has gone into this and studies have found that to effectively melt the meibum you need to reach a temperature between 40°C and 42°C. If your chosen hot eye compress does not deliver heat to this level it will not be effective and if it is too hot (>45°C) you might accidently damage the delicate skin around the eye.
How long should the mask stay on the eye?
The heat is working on the oils in the glands and ducts within the eyelid so the heat needs to penetrate into the skin. This takes time so you need a little patience, allow at least 10-minutes but ideally 12 to 15-minutes. A moist heat is preferred as it will help the heat penetrate faster.
How often do I need to use the eye mask?
Your eye care professional will advise how often you should use the mask but initially twice daily usually does the trick. But you will need to continue this for two to three weeks. Once you have things back under control you can reduce this frequency. Follow your eye care professional’s guidance.
Finish the job properly
The heat therapy will clear blocked meibum glands, to finish the job properly gently massage your eye lids to express the loosened debris and then clean away with a specialist wash or wipe. If you do this you leave the ducts clear for those important oils to flow into your eye.
Which eye mask is best?
There are a lot of different options on the market and it can be really confusing. Your eye care professional is there to recommend a product which ticks the essential boxes – the right temperature range for the correct period of time. Ideally it should also deliver a moist heat and be easy to keep clean.
Here are some tried and tested options from Dry Eye Zone. Our experts and their independent optician partners have a range of products to suit varying needs and budgets. All Dry Eye Zone eye masks deliver the clinically required heat profile.
Best if you struggle to find time
Not having enough time during your busy day is a common reason for not sticking to the recommended routine. That is why Dry Eye Zone has included TearRestore, the first open-eye mask which allows you to carry on with life while your eyes receive their heat treatment. Because you can continue blinking throughout treatment this helps spread the released oils over the eye as nature intended.
Best if you want to keep to a budget
The Bruder Moist Heat Compress, is naturally anti-bacterial, washable, reusable and needs no covers or pads. The unique pod design means it fits comfortably to all facial types and includes a soft adjustable strap.
Best if you deserve a little luxury
Dry Eye Zone loves to uncover new innovations in dry eye treatment. The Peep Club Heated Eye Wand delivers the heat you need to bring dry eye symptom relief whilst simultaneously giving the delicate area around your eye a gentle massage. Based on NASA demonstrated science, the Heated Eye Wand works to promote collagen and elastin to smooth out fine lines and rejuvenate your eye area.
Best if you wear contact lenses
The Eyeleve eye compress was created specifically for contact lens wearers. Eyeleve provides consistent, therapeutic moist heat that promotes natural hydration and alleviates symptoms of contact lens-induced dry eye for longer, comfortable wear.
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms then you should ask the advice of your eye care professional. Do not leave things untreated as symptoms may progress. Why not book your next eye examination with an independent optician today.
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