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Long eyelashes exacerbating dry eye?

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  • Long eyelashes exacerbating dry eye?

    I've been struggling with dry eye, mainly the right eye, ever since lasik operation for two years. I am also a long term (17 years) full time contact lens user. I feel that I have just had a "breakthrough" moment. I think I actually have "mild dry eye" but that this is considerably exacerbated by having very long eye lashes. I appreciate that this may not sound like an appealing solution to ladies that aspire to have long eye lashes.

    My symptoms
    The main symptom I struggle with is a sensation of my eyelid sticking to my eye. When I blink, the lower eyelid does not retract properly. The more dry my eye gets, the more it gets stuck. This is really annoying and uncomfortable. It is always on my mind and I am always pulling faces to try and get it to go back down. At its worst, my eye feels like sandpaper. I am constantly using my fingers to give the lower lid a nudge. My eyesight is notably worse when it gets very dry. I would say I have just as many good days as bad days.

    FYI - I do not have much of the typically reported dry eye symptoms such as red eye, streaming tears, itchy eyes, foreign body sensation. If I do it is very mild or infrequent and does not bother me.

    What have I tried so far without much luck?
    Thin eye drops
    Gel drops
    Antihistamine tablets
    Drinking loads of water
    Special dry eye goggles when cycling / avoding cycling
    Refuse to get in a car with air con, even the normal fan I turn off
    Heat masks
    Eye mask during sleep
    Antistamine eye drops **** DISCLAIMER - 10 days before I trimmed my eyelashes I switched from non-drowsy to a different kind so still wondering to what extent these might have helped
    Omega 3 tablets **** DISCLAIMER - I only just started using these 10 days before I trimmed my eyelashes so still wondering to what extent these might have helped

    My recent breakthrough moment
    I have very long eyelashes. I noticed that when I blink they "interlock" and get stuck slightly. I figure the drier my eyes get, the slower my eyelids retract, thus the more likely the lashes are to get stuck together as there is less "momentum" when I blink for the lashes to just brush past each other. In turn, the more the lashes get stuck, the less often I am blinking and/or I am not blinking properly as often.

    Thus, my theory, that my glands produce a reasonable amount of tears but the tears (that you need to clean debris and lubricate the eye) and not being distributed properly due to my eyelid getting stuck. So its a vicious circle: mild dry eye + long eyelashes = more likely lashes to get stuck = more dry eye = more likely to get stuck = more dry eye... progressively getting extremely dry.

    So I decided to trim my upper eyelashes. Bear in mind I have LONG eyelashes. It is not a good idea to chop these off altogether. Within minutes I felt a bit of relief. Gradually over the next 2 days my eyesight improved to what it is like on a "good day" (I have equal number of bad days as good days)... but it then improved beyond that to sharpness of vision that I have rarely had since the operation. More importantly, the sticking sensation has virtually gone and is now very comfortable.

    I am now about 5 days in since trimming them. It has been a long time since I had a 5 day long spell with my vision and comfort level being this good. To really put them to the test, yesterday I went out cycling with NO GLASSES at all. When I came back I had some mild discomfort but gradually it resolved over a couple of hours. Bear in mind that I had previously been using expensive cycling "goggles" that keep my eyes completely covered with no gaps... but make me look like Mr. Magoo and steam up when you sweat (very annoying and "not cool").


    As I only just started taking the omega 3 tablets and different type of antistamine tablets 10 days before I trimmer my lashes, I will keep taking them for a couple of weeks just to make sure this is not a co-incidence and I'm not jumping the gun. Then I will stop taking the tablets and pin down how much of the improvement truly is due to trimming my eyelashes.... and that its not just delayed reaction to the tablets. Or maybe its a combination of both, i.e. tablets get me to a "good level" but the lashes are stopping me getting to "almost perfect" level.

    I'd be interesting to hear from anyone else who has considered whether their eyelashes are getting stuck. Or anyone who thinks my theory is no good and its co-incidence/other factors.

    Maybe my case is a bit "special" as to be fair my symptoms don't seem to tick all the boxes that most dry eye sufferers have.

  • #2
    This is very interesting... because the feeling you feel is EXACTLY what I experience. When I lift my eyelid away from my eyeball, I feel relief. Does anybody know why this is? I also have long eyelashes which stick together. But my problem with my eyes is mainly in my right eye, I hardly have much trouble with my left one. I will be following this thread.


    • #3

      Yes, that sounds the same. Mine is mainly the right eye also, hardly ever the left and if it is the left it is never as bad as the right gets.

      If I lift my eyelid away from the eyeball it gives me relief. Its as if the the eyelid is a plunger and there is a feeling of "suction" between eyelid and eye. Also if I push the skin near my eyebrows up using my hands that can offer relied. I've sometimes thought that a facelift might solve it.

      I'm a week in now and I haven't had a flare up since. When I drive to work in the morning I feel a very mild episode coming on. Normally that develops progressively throughout the day getting worse and worse. But now it seems to just "surrender"... as if blinking naturally (now that I am blinking properly) can overpower whatever triggers a bit of mild dry eye (change in temperature from hot inside to cold outside perhaps).

      I've just stopped taking the antihistamine tablets and I'm going down to 1 omega 3 tablet a day. I stopped using the "night mask" a few days ago so I don't think that was helping. I am on a 2-3 hour flight tomorrow. Normally the air con would dry my eyes out completely, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Until I had this revelation I was planning to wear my goggles on the flight! (though I am still taking them just in case!)

      When I come back from holiday in a week I will stop taking the omega 3 tablets. If i stay good after that then I will feel confident that the eyelashes are a serious factor.

      If you are having a lot of problems like I was just try it. Trim your eyelashes. What's the worse that can happen? They'll grow back soon enough. Nobody has noticed mine have been trimmed as they are just "normal length" now (didn't trim lower ones, upper only).


      • #4
        i read a post from a ophthalmologist on twitter some time ago, talking about false eye lashes increasing wind force being pushed towards the eye and causing dry eye, i wonder if this is similar?
        People have recovered, so can we.


        • #5
          Parkster, I've had the exact same experience and with my left eye only for some reason. My eye would feel dry and goopy with "thick" tears for days and blinking was just not quite right. Though I've been diagnosed with mild dry eye caused my MGD, I usually keep things under control with some lipid based drops and warm compresses. After reading your post, I closely inspected my lashes and low and behold the upper and lower lashes were getting "tangled" with each and every blink. I'm not sure how that results in the goopy, painful eyes but I trimmed the lashes and the affected eye already feels much better after only a few minutes...thank you for your post!


          • #6

            The root cause of my problem is possibly not the eyelashes BUT drooping eyebrows which hang over my eyelids and interfere with normal blinking patterns, though the long eyelashes are still a factor I think. However, maybe I can stop cutting my eyelashes and tackle the problem at source now!

            I lost some faith in my theory over the course of the year as my symptoms returned even with short eyelashes. BUT, after looking in the mirror yesterday after a few "bad days" and watching myself blink I eventually spotted the problem....

            1. My eyebrows seem to droop down, covering my eyelids. Possibly I have "hooded eyelids" but I think it is something slightly different/more extreme than that
            2. The droopiness varies from day to day in severity possibly due to fatigue etc
            3. Right eye droops more than the left, hence right eye is normally worse than left
            4. My UPPER eyelashes were getting stuck in the cavity where my eyelids are due to the skin above hanging over. This was causing a scratchy feeling when I blinked and friction that slowed down the blinking process, preventing the tears being distributed, thus causing dry eye.

            I spotted this because I started getting red rashes on my eyelids, I now suspect this was either friction burns from the eyelashes (short and prickly after cutting them) or dry skin as it is not ventilated due to eyebrow drooping over.

            Looking online it is well documented that "droopy eyelids" (rather than eyebrows) can cause the same problem, this is similar but slightly different as I think it is the eyebrows encroaching on to the eyelids. Seems as if the likely cause could be nerve damage or some muscular problem.

            So having seen which of the upper lashes were getting stuck I cut them. Targeted cutting rather than arbitrary attacks. My eyes felt more comfortable within minutes and my eyesight is a lot better within 24 hours. I even recorded a video of it as evidence

            I will see my GP to see if I ought to be having some sort of operation or investigation in to the cause (I'm 35 so shouldn't really have droopy face muscles yet). In the meantime I've been doing James Bond eyebrow movements to try and strengthen the muscles in my forehead which I "think" might be helping too.

            Hope this helps someone. I wish I had figured this out sooner. I have been so close to figuring this out previously but always get distracted thinking it is other factors like wind from cycling/allergens/omega-3/antihistamines etc