Your eyes may seem like a defenseless part of your body, however, they’re actually one of the most resilient and well-protected organs. With a well-calibrated tear mixture and a network of glands in the eyelids, your lashes and lids do a powerful job of protecting a sensitive asset.
Your Eyes’ Natural Protection
Blinking may feel like a hindrance – something you only notice when there’s a reaction to overly dry eyes. But the act of blinking actually acts as a defensive barrier to wind, light, dust, or any other foreign debris that threatens the ecosystem of sight. When you blink, tiny glands in your eyelids secrete a fine oil called “meibum” to fully coat the outer surface of the tear fluid film. This film provides hydration to your eyes and prevents tears from evaporating too quickly. The result: a perfect balance of hydration and protection for your eyes without interfering with their functionality.
The lashes above and below your eyes serve a similar function, to ward off larger debris that could cause harm if allowed past the eyelid when not caught by a blink.
However reliable our natural defenses are, that doesn’t mean that they can operate without some assistance. When foreign bodies or bacteria enter the system, your ocular hygiene needs to take a step up, otherwise dry, itchy eyes and more could be coming.
Causes for Dry Eyes – Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
When foreign entities like dust, cosmetics or contact lenses come in contact with your eyes, several problems can occur. In addition to issues of corneal scratching, over time foreign matter can also clog your Meibomian glands or create swelling that restricts the flow of the meibum oils that are essential for eye health and proper function.
When this blockage occurs, your eye’s protective liquid layer has an unbalanced constitution, causing it to evaporate much quicker, and your eyes to dry out faster than they should. This blockage causes Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (or MGD for short), where that meibum ratio leads to the tiny glands to be clogged, and build up blockages that cause blurry vision, pain and even light sensitivity.
Different stages of clogging or debris can also lead to pre- and post-cursor painful symptoms, like styes, chalazions, or ingrown eyelashes.
Styes (occasionally spelled “stys”) or hoteola are lesions on the edge of the eyelid which develops a bacterial infection in a Meibomian gland. This infection causes pus to collect in the gland or eyelash follicle, creating a red bump that resembles a pimple. Styes are highly sensitive and usually painful. A common cause of styes is touching your eyes without washing your hands, leading to bacteria being introduced to the eyes and eyelids and gather in the gland.
Chalazions may look like styes, but they are significantly less painful, since they are a collection of trapped meibum in the gland, and not an infection. However, they still present as small, rubbery nodules that can prevent the eye from opening fully while attracting attention. Chalazions may be formed when dead skin from the eye lashes or small debris causes a blockage in one of your Meibomian glands, unclogging the gland is the best course of treatment to remove the chalazion and prevent further obstruction of vision.
Ingrown eyelashes also have a relationship with clogged Meibomian glands, where prolonged clogging of the glands can cause the lids to become inflamed, disrupting the follicles and causing them to turn inwards. Removing the gland obstructions and wayward eyelashes is typically the best course to move forward.
After examining these scenarios that are related to Dry Eye Disease, which is typically caused by MGD, it’s clear that the hygiene of the eyelids and Meibomian glands plays an essential role in prevention as well as treatment of dry eyes.
How to Care For Your Eyes
Wash Your Hands
While this has long been a staple of good hygiene, washing your hands frequently remains a powerful bacteria and debris deterrent. Observing good hand hygiene, especially if you wear contact lenses or frequently touch your eyes can be essential. Prevention of bacteria and debris in the eye is the foundation for the best treatments for Dry Eye Disease or syndrome.
Avoid Dry or Unclean Air
Avoiding overly dry or dirty air helps maintain proper tear film function and reduces the risk of contamination. This is especially true for dusty or particle-filled air (grass clippings, smog, etc) which can deposit tiny pollutants into our eyes. Steering clear from these environments can help ensure that your eyes suffer from less irritation and excessive watering as the body works to flood the eyes to remove foreign matter.
Wash Your Eyelids
Maintaining the calculated balance of your eyes’ ecosystem is essential. By keeping your eyes clean and free of debris, you can avoid many symptoms and related issues of Dry Eye Disease.
The best way to clean your eyelids and unclog Meibomian glands is EverTears®, a 2-in-1 instant heating compress and cleaning solution. EverTears® has been clinically proven to not only relieve dry eye symptoms, but also to help address the most common root cause…MGD. Just bend an EverTears® pad to instantly receive the precise level of heat needed to begin melting the waxy oil buildup that can clog your Meibomian glands. The heat also activates a special cleaning and moisturizing solution made with coconut oil extracts and hyaluronic acid HA. Doctors across the US already recommend EverTears® as the best treatments for Dry Eye Disease related to MGD. Cleaning your eyes with Evertears® safely and hygienically removes loosened build-up, leaving your eyes refreshed and working as they should.
Taking care of your eyes is an essential part of managing your well-being. With careful avoidance of damaging environments and proper hygiene, you can avoid dry, itchy eyes or even resolve persistent symptoms of Dry Eye Disease or other related health issues.
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