With it still being winter and most people with ocular surface disease being women, I thought it would be a good idea to give some tips and precautions with how make-up affects the surface of the eye and eyelids. However, as a person who never wears make-up, I can understand people being skeptical of my advice. So, I was able to talk to Precision Eye Group’s other optometrist, Dr. Brandy Deckard, about make-up. She not only has experience using make-up but also sees a lot of cases of ocular surface disease related to improper make-up use. I took some notes from our conversation about what we can do to help limit some of the risks of ocular surface disease. Here are some thoughts she presented:

“One of the most common things we see is make-up applied on the eyelid between the lashes and the surface of the eye—some people refer to this area as the waterline. This can cause major issues and should always be avoided. There are crucial glands responsible for maintaining moisture on the eyes in this location. This can lead to many problems with the eye health, the most common being ocular surface disease or dryness due to the eye not being able to produce a crucial component of the tears.

Some powders (eye shadows or foundations) you use on your eyelids can also wash into the eye either when applying or when you use eye drops, rub your eyes, or cry. Often this will cause redness, burning or pain, watery eyes, or a combination of all these symptoms. It is even possible that the chemicals in some make-up can be very irritating to the eyes since they are somewhat toxic to the surface. To avoid some of these side effects of wearing make-up, there are primers that can help any powder stick to the eyelids and not float into the eyes.

When we have a patient, who has a lot of inflammation from ocular surface disease or blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), we typically have the patient avoid wearing make-up to give the eyes a chance to recover. This can be difficult for people but the chance of recovery goes up greatly when treatment is not blocked by other debris in or around the eye. The most important is controlling inflammation, which can be caused by most foreign substances. More natural or hypo-allergenic make-ups can provide people with an alternative that does not have as many chemicals after their eyes are feeling better.”

—Dr. Brandy Deckard

One final thing I would like to talk about are the eye drops you can find over the counter which claim to get the “Red Out” of your eyes. On rare occasions, these can quickly provide instant white eyes. However, using these drops on a regular basis can lead to a dependence on the drops. The drops contain a chemical that shrinks blood vessels, and it works really well. Our body produces the same chemical, but when someone is introducing the chemical frequently, the body’s response stops producing the chemical. This leads to chronic redness and dependence on the eye drops. So instead of masking the problem with “Red Out” drops, give our office a call and we can investigate the cause of your surface disease or blepharitis and stop the source of the inflammation.

I would like to thank BioTissue for a lot of the information Dr. Deckard and I were able reference. More information on make-up use and how it can affect the eye check it out here: BioTissue: Make-up and the Eye