Statistics show that 86% of dry eye disease is caused by Meibomian gland disfunction, or blocked oil glands along the upper and lower lid margins. If you are suffering from dry eye, come in for an eye exam and we can access and diagnosis the type, severity, and probable cause of dry eye disease. We can give you more individualized recommendations and treatments. If it is just occasional and you want to try some home remedies, these are some of my recommendations.
If you have Meibomian Gland Disfunction (MGD), you should consider implementing a daily routine that will get your meibomian gland oils flowing again and ensure that your eyes stay healthy.
1. Warm Compress Eye Mask
A warm compress can work well to help stagnant oil flow more freely, and it can be great for symptom relief as well. To use a warm-compress eye mask, simply heat it up and then place over your closed eyelids for 10 minutes. (Testing for temperature sensitivity first.) You may need to reheat the mask as necessary if you prefer to use the compress for a longer time-period. By using this warm compress daily, you help the oils within your meibomian glands soften and release onto your eyes. Do not think you can just use a warm compress alone; you must get the oil flowing too.
2. Expression of the glands
You can help the stagnant oil along by practicing meibomian gland expression. The most effective way to do this is to have it done by your doctor, but you can also use a Q-tip or clean finger to gently massage the eyelids after using a warm compress. I always like my patients to follow this expression by doing squeeze blinks. Firmly squeeze your eyes closed for 5 seconds 3-4 times after the manual massaging of the lids.
3. Eyelid Cleansing
If you are not already doing so, we recommend cleansing your eyelids and lashes daily. You can do this after using your warm compress and performing a gentle expression on your glands. Hypochlorous acid eyelid cleansing spray is recommended because it is made naturally by the body to fight microorganisms. It is extremely gentle on the eyes and surrounding skin as well, so most people find incredible relief with this product. Simply spray it onto your closed eyelids, rub it in with clean fingertips, and let it dry. This can be found over the counter and under numerous trade names.
4. Increase Omega-3 Intake
Increasing your intake of fatty fish is the #1 way to increase omega-3s in your body. However, if you do not enjoy fish or just do not eat it a few times per week, the next best way is to use a fish oil supplement. We recommend starting with around 1200mg of combined EPA and DHA fatty acids, because when you increase the quality of the oils going into your body your body will produce higher quality oils. By taking triglyceride-based omega-3 supplements, you can increase the quality of the oil being made by the meibomian glands.
If these remedies are not helping, we recommend coming in for a complete evaluation and treatment plan tailored to you.
Torrey J. Carlson, O.D.