Dry Eye and the Eyelid Spa

May 03, 2016

Although the condition of Dry Eye may not sound very debilitating, it can lead to inflammation of the eyelid, cornea, and conjunctiva (the thin clear tissue on the white of the eye), causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea if left untreated. Dry Eye is caused by an abnormality in the body’s natural tear production process. The resulting irritation may lead to scarring of the cornea which can’t be treated with medication, leaving surgery as the only option. Dry Eye should be treated early to relieve symptoms and maintain long-term eye health. In addition to the known treatments such as artificial tears, steroid eye-drops, and a warm washcloth compression of the eyelid and Eyelid Hygiene Treatment is one technique which helps to relieve Dry Eye and improve these chronic conditions.


What is an Eyelid Spa?

Eyelid massage and cleaning (“Eyelid Spa” at Bumrungrad Hospital) is a form of massage that works along the length of the eyelids to provide relief from obstruction of the meibomian glands. A glass instrument and cotton bud are used to squeeze the oily fluid out from the glands. Prior to undergoing an Eyelid Spa, the patient must undergo a diagnosis and be approved for treatment by an ophthalmologist. In addition to checking for dry eyes and eyelash mites, the doctor will also use meibography to check the damage meibomian glands.

* Meibomian glands are located vertically within the eyelid and produce tears to provide lubrication for the eyes. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the leading cause of Dry Eye because when the glands are blocked and filled with an oily secretion, this affects the 3-layer tear fluid and causes tears to evaporate too rapidly, leading to dry eye conditions.

What are the Eyelid Spa procedures?

A warm gel is first applied to the eyes for about 10 minutes to loosen the oily fluid. Then, the anesthetic agent is applied. Next, the doctor or nurse begins to massage the eyelids by using a glass instrument and cotton bud to squeeze the oily fluid out from the glands. After this has been completed, the eyelids are cleaned gently yet thoroughly with foam (if eyelash mites are found*, an antibacterial foam will be used). After cleaning is completed, the foam is wiped away.

* Eyelash mites have eight short and stubby legs. Their bodies are elongated, almost worm-like. They live on the eyelashes. They are too small to see with the naked eye, but are easily viewed under a microscope. Most dry eye patients are likely to have eyelash mites. Between 3 and 5 mites can be found in each eyelash follicle. The mites live off of the oil on the eyelids. The number of mites increases at a rate of 1-15 mites per life cycle. The mites have a life cycle of about 3 weeks and they lay 24-30 eggs each time. As the number of mites increase, it may cause endless inflammation. Cleaning the eyelids helps to end the problem.

Is the Eyelid Spa painful?

The patient will receive an anesthetic agent to avoid pain. After the Eyelid Spa treatment, the patient can immediately return to his or her normal routine activities including driving.

What are the benefits of Eyelid Spa?

The benefits of Eyelid Spa include removing debris, unblocking the glands, cleaning the eyelids, removing eyelash mites, relieving eyelid inflammation and irritation, and relieving dry eye conditions.

By Dr. Nattawut Wanumkarng, Oculoplastic & Reconstructive and Tear Duct Specialist, Eye Center, Bumrungrad Hospital

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