What’s the Lowdown on Eyelashes and Eye Health?

Your eyelashes don’t just frame a pretty face – they are your eyes’ frontline defense system. Their characteristic curved shape helps fight against airborne debris, filter out the sun’s harmful rays, and reduce your risk of eyelash infection.  These remarkable ‘soldiers’ naturally grow, fall out, and are replaced every six to ten weeks.

But your eyelashes don’t function as you’d imagine. Rather than acting as a net to trap errant particles in the air, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that your lashes act as a sort of airfoil and alter the path of air flow around your eyes. Eyelashes are curved and measure around a third of your eye’s width, the optimal length for redirecting airflow away from the surface of your corneas. This miraculous piece of human engineering reduces tear evaporation and keeps unwelcome particles out of reach.

And if you want them to keep fluttering, they need to be looked after. So how best to care for your eyelashes and prevent infections such as blepharitis?

Wash Your Eyelids

Build eye hygiene into your daily routine by washing your face and eyelids with gentle cleansing soap and water. This helps remove any remaining debris or eye makeup that may have built up during the day, preventing spot breakouts and reducing your risk of eye infection.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Pack your plate with plenty of proteins and colourful fruit and vegetables, and ensure you’re getting enough iron in your diet to help maintain good general health and full, healthy eyelashes.

Be Careful with Fake Eyelashes

They might give you an Instagram-worthy party look, but eyelash extensions and fake eyelashes can inflict serious harm to your vision. When eyelashes are elongated to an unnatural length, they disrupt your lashes’ natural function and start to act like a funnel, channeling more air towards the surface of your eyes. This increases tear evaporation, causes more airborne debris to come into contact with your cornea and greatly increases the chance of infection, such as dry eye syndrome or blepharitis.

It should also be noted that regular use of fake eyelashes can result in the permanent loss of your natural eye lashes if the glue damages your hair follicles. Make sure to remove them gently, using warm water to loosen any stubborn glue.

Practice Mascara Etiquette

Mascara gives the illusion of thick, long eyelashes, but it can also be a source of eye infections. You can easily avoid contracting an infection by removing your eye makeup every evening before you go to bed and ensuring you regularly replace your mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow palettes so they don’t become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Wear Sunglasses

Like many human features, your eyelashes can’t be held absolutely responsible when it comes to protecting your vision. One of the best steps you can take to give your lashes a helping hand is investing in high quality sunglasses that shield your vision from 100% UVA and UVA rays and provide protection from debris – especially when enjoying outdoor pursuits such as hiking, boating or skiing.

Get Clued Up on Madarosis

If your eyelashes start falling out more rapidly, you may have a condition called madarosis. This is most likely caused by an underlying health issue elsewhere in your body, but can also be the result of blepharitis, psychological habit, or irritation from eye makeup or lash-extension glue.

Treat Blepharitis Quickly

Blepharitis is when your eyelids become inflamed, causing painful, swollen eyelids, crusty eyelashes and dry, sore eyes. It’s a common condition and is usually caused when harmful bacteria multiply along your eyelids and eyelashes and create a toxic biofilm, resulting in more inflammation, gland dysfunction, dry eyes and causing your eye lashes to clump together. This affects the airflow around your cornea and exacerbates the symptoms of dry, sore eyes. It’s therefore important to treat the condition quickly to prevent a more serious infection.  You can buy eyelid wipes for blepharitis from our dispensing team at Infocus Opticians.

If you start experiencing symptoms of an eyelash infection – such as pain, redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, crustiness, and/or swelling – visit the practice to get an emergency appointment with one of our ophthalmic opticians.  Or, for immediate advice give us a call on 0207 224 7400.