If you are working on the computer for long hours, you would have come across a feeling of burning and irritation in the eyes. This is called Dry Eye Syndrome. Previously, it was thought to be common in people who are aging as it causes reduced tear production, professionals who constantly use a computer, and individuals with certain illnesses. But, nowadays, the incidences of Dry Eye Syndrome are also increasing in women who use eye makeup. The present fashion trend is to tight-line the eyes. Tight-lining means applying the eyeliner on the waterline of the eyelids, particularly the upper ones. This subtly defines the eyes and also gives an appearance of thick eyelashes. Using mascara would make your eyelashes look thicker and your eyes bigger. But, using an inappropriate eye makeup product would cause the makeup particles to move from the waterline into the eyes resulting in eye irritation, redness, watering, and blurred vision. These makeup particles could also block the meibomian glands leading to dry eyes and chalazion (tumor-like cysts on the eyelid). Thus, looking beautiful may come with a price.

Let us see how the use of eye make-up causes dry eyes.

Our eyes need protection from the dust, germs, and irritants present in the atmosphere. A tear film helps safeguard the eyes. It also provides lubrication so that the lids can easily move over the eyes. This tear film has 3 parts:

  1. The innermost mucin layer is secreted by the cornea (a transparent layer in front of the eye) which remains in contact with the eye.
  2. The thick middle layer, which is made up of tears, is secreted by the tear glands.
  3. The outermost layer is an oily layer secreted by the meibomian glands present along the rims of the upper and lower eyelids. It covers the watery tear layer and slows down its evaporation.

When we apply eye make-up on the waterline, these products clog the opening of the meibomian glands preventing the oil from coming to the surface. This leads to rapid evaporation of the tear layer causing a feeling of dryness, burning, and irritation in the eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

Here are some symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome.

  1. Irritation in the eyes
  2. Burning in the eyes
  3. Redness
  4. Foreign body sensation in the eyes
  5. Watering from the eyes
  6. Sensitivity to the light
  7. Eye fatigue
  8. Blurred vision
  9. Problem with wearing contact lenses


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How Do I Know That My Eyes are Dry Because of the Make-up?

Dry eyes do not happen overnight. It is a gradual process.

When you use a waterproof eyeliner or mascara, it can temporarily clog the opening of the meibomian gland and cause the symptoms of dry eyes. When you remove the product, the symptoms are relieved.

So, you need to check if this sensation of burning and dryness is associated with the use of your eye make-up. You also need to test all the eye make-up products you have as this might not happen with all the eye makeup products.

If you can relate the dryness to an eye make-up product, stop using that product. If the dry eyes persist despite stopping all the eye cosmetics, you would need to get yourself checked by an eye doctor


What Are the Other Conditions That Could Cause Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes can result due to:

  1. Low quality of tears
  2. Low production of tears

It is observed in conditions such as:

  1. Aging, since the tear production reduces as the person ages
  2. Staring and infrequent blinking while using the computer.
  3. Hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, lactation, while taking the OC pills, and menopause
  4. Sitting in an air-conditioned room, airy room.
  5. Laser eye surgery and radiation to the eyes could damage the tear gland.
  6. Obstruction to the flow of tears: the blockage of tear gland.
  7. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, anti-acne medicines, hormonal pills, and certain BP medications.
  8. Certain autoimmune conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, an underactive thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, etc.
  9. Blepharitis, Rosacea, etc.


How to Prevent the Dry Eyes Resulting Due to Wearing Makeup?

Here are some helpful tips to prevent the development of dry eyes due to make-up.

  1. Choose appropriate products for the eyes. Not all eyeliners could be used on the waterline. The products should clearly mention as for use on the waterline. Avoid using liquid liners or glitter on the waterline.
  2. Always wear hypoallergenic eye make-up products.
  3. Do not tight-line the eyes often and for longer periods. Apply the liner on the outside of the waterline or, sometimes, you can also go makeup-free.
  4. Do not apply mascara to the base of the eyelashes. Coat only the top half so that it does not clog the meibomian glands.
  5. Make sure that you remove the eye make-up with an appropriate eye make-up remover. To remove the waterproof make-up, you would need a special bi-phasic make-up remover.


Living with Dry Eye Syndrome:

If you have dry eyes, it is important to identify the underlying cause and treat it, besides using the medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Here are some helpful tips to manage your dry eyes.

  1. Blink your eyes often.
  2. Follow the 20-20 rule for dry eyes. Eye specialists often suggest this exercise. After every 20 minutes, stop looking at your computer screen and focus at a distance for 20 seconds. This relaxes the eye muscles.
  3. Warm compresses to unclog the meibomian glands: Take a soft clean towel, dip it in the warm water, and hold it to your eye for some time. This will help to unclog the meibomian glands
  4. Use glasses instead of contact lenses: Using contact lenses with dry eyes could further irritate your eyes.
  1. Take timely eye breaks when into long-duration tasks: If you are doing some task that needs a visual focus for a long time, such as reading a book, make sure that you take eye breaks at regular intervals. Shut your eyes for a few seconds or minutes. You can also blink your eyes repeatedly to let the tears spread over the eyes evenly.
  1. Use eyeglasses and sunglasses that are curved/closed on the sides. This will protect the eyes from the air when driving.
  2. Limit the use of eye make-up.
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Include food abundant in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. The food sources are flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, fish, such as Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon, etc.
  5. Include foods abundant in vitamin A, such as carrots, papaya, spinach, bell peppers, cantaloupes, and pumpkin, in your diet.

I hope this article helps you to deal with your Dry Eye Syndrome. You may share your tips below.

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