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How Eye Masks Can Help with Dry Eye

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A young man sitting at a desk with his laptop and holding his glasses in his right hand as he rubs his eyes.

When you’re busy, you don’t have time to deal with dry eyes. The irritation and discomfort can be disruptive, making your day more challenging than it needs to be. You need a solution for your symptoms that’s accessible and simple. While numerous treatments are available, one often overlooked solution is eye masks.

The warm compress of an eye mask is designed to gently heat the eyelids and loosen oil blockages that impede the production of fresh, healthy tears. 

When your dry eyes are caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), eye masks can be a relaxing and effective home remedy. If you need long-lasting relief from chronic dry eyes, visit your optometrist to explore a range of options.

Understanding Dry Eye

The tear film is essential for protecting and nourishing your eyes. If there’s a problem with it, you can develop dry eye. Dry eye is common and occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or your tears evaporate too quickly. 

Symptoms often include:

  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Grittiness
  • A feeling that something’s in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue

Dry eye can cause significant discomfort and interfere with daily activities such as reading, driving, or computer work.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Age: Tear production decreases with age.
  • Hormonal changes: Menopause, pregnancy, and hormone replacement therapy can impact tears.
  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medications can also contribute to dry eye.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to air pollution, wind, and dry climates can aggravate dry eye symptoms.
  • Underlying health conditions: Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome can also cause dry eye.

The most common cause of dry eye is MGD. MGD occurs when the oil-producing glands along your eyelids become blocked and can’t produce the oil needed for your tear film. When there’s not enough oil in the tear film, it evaporates too quickly, leaving your eyes dry and vulnerable.

Eye Masks for Dry Eye

Eye masks can help relieve dry eye symptoms. 

Targets Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Eye masks provide soothing heat therapy that helps unclog and stimulate the meibomian glands. This gentle heat promotes improved oil flow, alleviating symptoms such as dryness, redness, and discomfort.

After using a warm eye mask, you can perform a gentle eye massage to gently dislodge debris and restore healthy oil function.

Convenience & Accessibility

Eye masks are easy to use and can be used anytime, anywhere. They come in different sizes and can be adjusted to fit the contours of the face, making them a customizable solution.

Cost Effective

Compared to other treatment options, eye masks are an affordable dry eye relief method. They can be reused multiple times, making them a cost-effective option for those on a budget.

A woman putting eye drops with one hand while holding her cheek down with the other.

Other Treatments for Dry Eye 

Dry eye treatments include over-the-counter and prescription eye drops, lifestyle changes to reduce triggering factors, and, in severe cases, medical procedures.

Artificial tears can help lubricate the eye and provide temporary relief. Prescription eye drops can help reduce inflammation and improve tear production.

Lifestyle changes also help reduce dry eye symptoms. These include: 

  • Avoiding dry and windy environments
  • Wearing sunglasses
  • Taking regular breaks when working on a computer

Other at-home remedies include:

In persistent or severe cases, your optometrist may recommend in-office procedures such as:

  • Punctal plugs to block tear drainage
  • Lid scrubs to remove debris and prevent blepharitis
  • Amniotic membranes
  • TearCare and meibomian gland expression

Find Lasting Relief from Dry Eyes

At-home remedies can be a life-saving relief when dry eye interrupts your day. Not only are eye masks relaxing, but they target the MGD that causes most cases of dry eye.

If you have dry eye symptoms, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor at Bluebird Vision + Wellness to determine the underlying cause and explore your treatment options. With the proper therapeutic methods, you can reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Dr. Cody Jones, O.D. at Bluebird Eye Care in Blackfoot, Idaho.

Written by Dr. Cody Jones

Dr. Jones is a fully licensed Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). He graduated from Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia with academic and clinical honors—receiving both Doctor of Optometry and Bachelor of Science degrees. Upon his graduation, Dr. Jones served as an officer and doctor at the Naval Medical Center of San Diego, where he gained valuable experience. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during this service.

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