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How to promote and preserve eyelid health

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Disorders of the lacrimal functional unit are common in ophthalmological practice, with meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, and dry eye forming a significant part of the general ophthalmologist's practice. The eyelid and its associated structures form a complex organ designed to protect the fragile corneal surface and improve visual acuity. This organ is subject to a number of disorders, including meibomian gland dysfunction, dry eye syndrome, anterior blepharitis, allergic and dermatological conditions, and disorders associated with contact lens use. Although commonly described separately, disorders of the lacrimal function unit are better considered as a group of interacting pathologies that have inflammatory mediators as a central feature. Eyelid hygiene, in the sense of routine cleansing and massage of the eyelids, is well accepted in the management of many disorders of the eyelid. However, a broader concept of eyelid health may be appropriate, in which eyelid cleansing is but a part of a more complete program of care that includes screening and risk assessment, patient education, and coaching. The ophthalmologist has an important role to play in helping patients persist with routine eyelid care that may be long-term or lifelong. A number of preparations exist to make routine eyelid care both more effective and more pleasant, and might also improve compliance. Several such preparations have been devised, and are being assessed in clinical studies, and appear to be effective and preferred by patients over traditional soap and water or baby shampoo.
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Clinical Ophthalmology 2012:6 1689–1698
Clinical Ophthalmology
How to promote and preserve eyelid health
Jose M Benitez-del-Castillo
Ocular Surface and Inflammation,
Department Ophthalmology, Hospital
Clinico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain
Correspondence: JM Benitez-del-Castillo
Ocular Surface and Inammation,
Department Ophthalmology, Hospital
Clinico San Carlos, Madrid 28040, Spain
Tel +349 1330 3963
Fax +349 1330 3975
Email jbenitez.hcsc@salud.madrid.org
Abstract: Disorders of the lacrimal functional unit are common in ophthalmological practice,
with meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, and dry eye forming a significant part of the
general ophthalmologist’s practice. The eyelid and its associated structures form a complex
organ designed to protect the fragile corneal surface and improve visual acuity. This organ is
subject to a number of disorders, including meibomian gland dysfunction, dry eye syndrome,
anterior blepharitis, allergic and dermatological conditions, and disorders associated with contact
lens use. Although commonly described separately, disorders of the lacrimal function unit are
better considered as a group of interacting pathologies that have inflammatory mediators as a
central feature. Eyelid hygiene, in the sense of routine cleansing and massage of the eyelids, is
well accepted in the management of many disorders of the eyelid. However, a broader concept
of eyelid health may be appropriate, in which eyelid cleansing is but a part of a more complete
program of care that includes screening and risk assessment, patient education, and coaching.
The ophthalmologist has an important role to play in helping patients persist with routine eyelid
care that may be long-term or lifelong. A number of preparations exist to make routine eyelid
care both more effective and more pleasant, and might also improve compliance. Several such
preparations have been devised, and are being assessed in clinical studies, and appear to be
effective and preferred by patients over traditional soap and water or baby shampoo.
Keywords: eyelid, disorders, health, lacrimal functional unit
Introduction
Disorders of the eyelid are amongst the most frequently encountered pathologies in rou-
tine clinical ophthalmological practice. Meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, and
dry eye comprise a large portion of the workload of general practicing ophthalmologists.
Treatment of these disorders is not straightforward, there are no simple answers, and
much of the burden of routine eyelid care falls on the patient. The present review
considers whether the currently well-understood concept of eyelid hygiene should be
generalized to a broader concept of eyelid health.
The healthy eyelid
The healthy human eyelid is a remarkable but all too frequently neglected structure
(Figure 1). Its anatomy and physiology are adapted to a number of specific functions,
collectively crucial to the health of the eye, that include protection of the vulnerable
ocular surface from physical insult and providing a lubricated and hydrated environment
for movement of the eyelid and a smooth ocular surface for optimal visual acuity.
1
The International Dry Eye Workshop in 2007 defined the “lacrimal functional unit”
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environment and the eye surface. The tear film is predomi-
nantly aqueous in nature and is formed from the secretions
of the lacrimal glands. However, although minor in quantity,
the lipids in the tear film formed from the sebaceous secre-
tions of the meibomian glands are crucial to its function.
The tear film provides protective, lubricant, nutritional, and
antimicrobial functions, as well as playing an important role
in visual acuity.
1,4–9
The physiology of the tear film is rela-
tively complex, comprising a very thin (less than 100 nM)
outer lipid layer that overlies an aqueous layer enriched with
water-soluble proteins, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other
materials; the innermost layer is also aqueous and contains
mucins. The aqueous layers are considerably thicker than
the lipidic layer (around 4 µm).
10
The meibomian glands
(Figure 2) are responsible for production and secretion of the
lipid and protein components of the tear film, the function of
which is to stabilize and, most importantly, to prevent evapo-
ration of the tear film.
11
The meibomian glands are adapted
sebaceous glands located on the edge of each eyelid although,
unlike sebaceous glands in other parts of the body, each is
not specifically associated with a hair (or eyelash) follicle.
Each meibomian gland is formed from a long central duct
with chains of secretory acini arranged around it in a radial
pattern. The glands are arranged in a single row extending
the width of the eyelid. The proteinaceous lipidic material
produced, meibum, is secreted from a terminal duct onto
the posterior lid margin and expressed on the ocular surface
during eyelid movements. During sleep and periods of
reduced blinking (eg, during visual concentration), meibum
accumulates in the ducts of the gland and can be expressed
in quantity by forced blinking. Production of meibum is
modulated by a very large number of hormonal and neu-
ral influences, including androgens, progestin, estrogen,
corticotrophin-releasing hormone, and substance P, as well as
by the autonomic nervous system.
12
The relative importance
of these systems in the physiology of the meibomian gland
Upper eyelid
Palpebrale conjunctiva
Meibomian gland
Cornea
Eyelashes
Bulbal conjunctiva
Lower eyelid
Conjunctival fornix
Figure 1 Schematic sagittal section of the lacrimal functional unit.
Figure 2 Location of the meibomian gland orices.
as an integrated structure comprising the lacrimal glands,
ocular surface (cornea, conjunctiva, and meibomian glands),
eyelids, and the sensory and motor nerves that connect them.
2
This concept gives this functional system the prominence it
deserves, given its important role in maintaining the health
of the exterior optical surface, and thereby vision.
The cornea is the most fragile external structure of the
body and relies entirely on the eyelid and adjacent structures
to maintain its patency; a cornea directly and permanently
exposed to the environment will rapidly succumb to epithe-
lial defects, scarring, vascularization, and infection, and is
experienced by the patient as irritation, pain, loss of visual
acuity and, eventually, loss of sight.
3
As with many ophthal-
mic disorders, even small degrees of dysfunction can have
very significant impacts on quality of life and the ability to
carry out normal daily tasks.
The healthy eyelid comprises a lamellar structure with
fine skin on the outer surface and conjunctiva on the inner
surface. Between these layers lie a number of muscle groups
that control the movement of the eyelid, and in particular
the blink reflex, as well as the tarsal plate that comprises the
meibomian glands.
The tear film can be considered a substructure of the
eyelid and forms a highly important layer between the
eyelid and the surface of the eye and between the exterior
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is not well understood, but clearly offers the opportunity for
a rich control system.
10
Disorders of the eyelid
The eyelid can be subject to a variety of disorders, ranging
from benign and self-limiting disease to neoplasia. In the cur-
rent context, we consider a related and interacting group of
illnesses, the course of which could conceivably be improved
by eyelid hygiene.
Meibomian gland dysfunction
According to a recent international workshop, meibomian
gland dysfunction is defined as “a chronic, diffuse abnor-
mality of the meibomian glands, commonly characterized
by terminal duct obstruction and/or qualitative/quantitative
changes in the glandular secretion. It may result in altera-
tion of the tear film, symptoms of eye irritation, clinically
apparent inflammation, and ocular surface disease.
13
The
term posterior blepharitis is often used synonymously with
meibomian gland dysfunction, though in its early stages,
meibomian gland dysfunction may not be associated with
inflammation of the eyelid. The symptoms of meibomian
gland dysfunction are the result of an impaired quantity or
quality of meibum supplied to the ocular surface. Most com-
monly, the terminal ends of the ducts become blocked with
keratinized cells. However, such obstruction of the duct can
lead to ductal dilatation and loss of secretory cells in the acini
of the gland.
10,11
Blocked terminal ducts reduce the quantity
of meibum which can be produced by the gland, and also
appear to affect its lipid composition deleteriously as well,
with a tendency for more branched chain fatty acids and
cholesterol in the meibum,
14
which gives a more waxy and
viscous character (Figure 3).
Difficulties in definition and lack of standardized tools for
clinical assessment have hampered systematic studies of the
epidemiology of meibomian gland dysfunction. Moreover, the
specialized tests required to identify meibomian gland dys-
function in its nonsymptomatic manifestations are not appro-
priate for use in population-based epidemiological studies.
15
However, some trends are clear, ie, Asian populations appear
to have a much higher prevalence of meibomian gland dys-
function (up to 60% in some studies) than do Caucasians (typi-
cally 3%–20%).
15
A number of factors have been identified
which coexist with meibomian gland dysfunction and, whilst
causal links have not been proven, plausible mechanisms exist
for connecting them with the pathophysiology of meibomian
gland dysfunction, ie, anterior blepharitis, contact lens use,
Demodex mite infestation, and dry eye disease.
15
In addi-
tion, hormonal conditions such as menopause and androgen
deficiency might contribute to the illness, as could rosacea,
psoriasis, atopy, and hypertension.
15
Clinical manifestations of meibomian gland dysfunc-
tion can range from the barely perceptible to serious and
sight-threatening changes in the ocular epithelium.
16
The
predominant symptoms are related to dry eye, of which
meibomian gland dysfunction is a major cause.
17
Eyelid
hygiene is considered the mainstay of clinical treatment
for meibomian gland dysfunction.
18
Reliable and controlled
heating will melt meibum and facilitate its release by mas-
sage and cleansing.
Dry eye
Dry eye is one of the most frequently encountered ocular
complaints in general ophthalmological practice.
19
Formally
defined by the International Dry Eye Workshop as “a mul-
tifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results
in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear
film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface.
It is accompanied by increased osmolarity of the tear film
and inflammation of the ocular surface.
2
However, its true
prevalence remains obscure. Whilst there is no shortage of
epidemiological studies offering estimates of prevalence,
ranging from less than 0.1%
20
to more than 15%,
21
method-
ological differences and a lack of uniform diagnostic criteria
12
have hampered attempts at establishing the true prevalence.
22
Nevertheless, most practicing ophthalmologists would tend
towards an estimate at the higher end of this range.
Dry eye syndromes are classified into two major cat-
egories, ie, aqueous-deficient, in which a diminution in
the amount of tears produced is the primary etiology, and
evaporative, in which aqueous tear production is adequate,
but evaporation reduces the effectiveness of the tear film.
2
Aqueous-deficient dry eye disease may be subdivided into
Figure 3 Meibomian gland dysfunction: strings of waxy, dysfunctional meibomian
secretion.
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Preserving eyelid health
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Sjögren or non-Sjögren, the former being an autoimmune
disease of the lacrimal and salivary glands and the latter
being due to various disorders of the lacrimal functional unit,
such as lacrimal gland insufficiency or ductal obstruction.
2
Evaporative dry eye disease can be a consequence of mei-
bomian gland dysfunction as well as allergic conjunctivitis,
and anatomical disorders of the lacrimal functional unit or
the blink reflex.
12
In recent years, there has been considerable
interest in the role of inflammatory mediators in the initia-
tion and maintenance of dry eye and a plausible hypothesis
exists in which changes in tear composition initiate the
release of inflammatory mediators that in turn alter tear
composition.
23
The clinical presentation is variable and can include eye
irritation of varying degrees of severity and persistence,
pain, ocular fatigue, and blurred vision.
24
The clinical
course is typically chronic, and whilst patients can obtain
some degree of relief with appropriate treatment, a definitive
cure is rarely obtained.
12,25
The addition of an eyelid hygiene
regimen decreased corneal epithelial permeability more than
tear lubricants alone in patients with Sjögren syndrome in
a 2-week study.
26
Allergy, dermatological conditions,
and contact lenses
The eye provides an excellent medium for the expression
of allergic symptomatology, as well as pathology caused by
contact lens use and other environmental factors. Many skin
disorders also have an ocular component. Manifestations of
this group of disorders can range from the commonplace,
such as allergic conjunctivitis, to the rare and spectacular,
such as giant papillary conjunctivitis.
15
Allergic conjunc-
tivitis is a common disorder, with recent studies finding
prevalence rates as high as 40%, and the cardinal signs and
symptoms being itching, redness, and eyelid swelling.
27
Though generally self-limiting, both seasonal and peren-
nial forms of allergic conjunctivitis cause considerable
discomfort and have profound effects on quality of life.
27
Both seasonal and perennial forms of allergic conjunctivitis
share a pathology involving a classical immunoglobulin E/
mast cell-mediated reaction to airborne allergens (typically
pollen in the seasonal form, and mites, mold, and animal
dander in the perennial form).
28
Ocular symptoms usually
exist in common with nasal symptoms in allergic rhinitis
and contribute significantly to the burden of illness, to the
extent that the term rhinoconjunctivitis has been coined to
represent better the clinical manifestations and course of
the disorder.
27,28
Contact lens use is associated with meibomian gland
dysfunction, and dry eye. Eyelid hygiene should result in
increased contact lens tolerance by improving meibomian
gland function (and thus decreasing evaporation) and dry eye,
and improving giant papillary conjunctivitis. Eyelid hygiene
will help remove allergens from the lid margin, decreasing
its access to the conjunctiva.
Anterior blepharitis
Anterior blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of the eyelid
margin. It is extremely common worldwide, and indeed is
probably the most common presentation in routine ophthalmo-
logic practice.
29,30
As well as inflammation, typical symptoms
include irritation, burning sensation, foreign object sensation,
tearing, and dry eyes. Frequently patients will complain of
their eyelids being stuck together upon wakening. Anterior
blepharitis involves the anterior lid margin and eyelashes, and
is associated with staphylococcal infection
31
or Demodex mite
infestation.
32
Certain dermatological conditions, such as seb-
orrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and eczema carry an increased risk
of anterior blepharitis.
12
In any case, the clinical course can
vary from mild and self-limiting to chronic, with lid margin
hypertrophy, scarring, madarosis, trichiasis, and poliosis.
33
Treatment is frequently unsatisfactory, and requires consider-
able commitment from the patient to regular, long-term, and
rigorous eyelid hygiene regime.
33–35
Interacting pathologies
It is clear from the brief foregoing description of the vari-
ous eyelid pathologies that there is a considerable degree of
interaction between these conditions. Meibomian gland dys-
function and inflammation are pathophysiological processes
that can be identified as cause or consequence in many of the
illnesses described above. Meibomian gland dysfunction, for
example, can result in tears that evaporate too quickly and
result in dry eye and blepharitis. The increasing evidence
of an inflammatory component in dry eye also points in a
similar direction.
2,36
Altered meibomian lipids
37
produced in meibomian gland
dysfunction may themselves be proinflammatory or be trans-
formed into proinflammatory compounds by bacteria. In any
event, the altered lipids are less easily expressed from the
glands due to their waxy nature (more ordered conformation)
and are less effective at providing the hydrophobic barrier the
tear film requires to avoid excessive evaporation. A scheme
for understanding disorders of the ocular surface and con-
junctiva as a related and interacting group of diseases and
risk factors has been proposed.
38,39
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Eyelid hygiene or eyelid health?
Arriving in the English language via the latinization of a
Greek root, hygiene means conditions and practices that serve
to promote or preserve health.
40
Hygeia was the daughter of
the Greek god of medicine Askiepios, and like her sister,
Panaceia, she followed her father into medicine, but was
specifically charged with the prevention of illness and the
promotion of health.
41
Although the distinction between hygiene and health
can be obscure, the concept of hygiene commonly refers
to the prevention of disease via practices in normal daily
life, rather than the treatment of illness or risk factors for
disease. The concept of dental hygiene is well understood,
but, for example, the idea of “lipid hygiene” maintained with
statins is less readily appreciated despite the widespread use
of these drugs.
In modern usage, hygiene implies promotion of health
through prevention of infection, particularly through clean-
ing regimes. Although cleansing is an important component
of eyelid health, there is a case to define a wider concept of
eyelid health to include screening and patient education as
well as warming, massage, and cleansing routines.
An analogy between eyelid health and dental health is
apposite. The dental patient is responsible for cleaning their
teeth, but regular screening (and, if necessary, intervention)
by both dentist and dental hygienist identifies the develop-
ment of gum problems at as early a stage as possible. It has
become routine practice for the dental hygienist to educate
their patients on the importance of healthy gums as well as in
techniques for maintaining gum health. They also routinely
recommend products (devices, such as electric toothbrushes,
interdental sticks, as well as consumables, such as toothpaste)
both to improve gum health and to make the hygiene process
pleasant and effective, which in turn improves compliance
with the hygiene regime.
Similarly, an analogous concept of eyelid health that
incorporates screening and risk assessment, patient educa-
tion, daily hygiene regimes, and treatment intervention when
necessary seems appropriate in this context. Moreover,
whilst the symptoms of these disorders are unpleasant in
themselves and in some cases debilitating, they can also
lead to more serious, sight-threatening conditions if left
untreated; blepharitis for example, can lead to conjunctivitis
and permanent lid margin changes, such as meibomian gland
dropout, marginal keratitis, corneal neovascularization, and
cicatricial lid changes.
42
Blepharitis is also a risk factor for
endophthalmitis after cataract surgery.
43,44
Blepharitis has
been reported in as many as 60% of patients about to undergo
cataract surgery.
45
Reducing blepharitis, and consequently
tear film insufficiency, would reduce the bacterial coloniza-
tion of the ocular surface that can result in postoperative
ocular infections.
46
Components of eyelid health
Warming, massage, and cleansing
The ocular surface (as part of the lacrimal functional unit) is
an anatomically complex structure and its physical location,
surrounded by nose, cheeks, and brows, means that it is not as
readily accessible to routine daily cleaning as the surrounding
structures.
32
The aqueous environment of the ocular surface
and eyelids and the proteinaceous/lipidic secretions of the
meibomian glands form a convenient locus for infection
by Staphylococci and infestation by Demodex species. The
accumulation of crusts on the eyelashes and eyelid margin
also encourages infection and infestation.
The principle that pathologically altered meibomian lipids
are melted by warming is sound, but when used in clinical
practice, there is a risk that its efficacy may be compromised
by poorly standardized procedures (variable duration and
degree of warming as well as imperfect compliance).
47
Specific devices have been developed to assist the patient
in delivering moist heat therapy in a consistent and effective
manner.
48
Once Meibomian secretions are melted, massage
helps in relieving meibomian gland obstruction.
Cleansing is a well-established part of the treatment of
anterior blepharitis, but likely has benefits for other patholo-
gies as well. The effective removal of crusts around the eyelid
margin reduces the possibility of bacterial infection that not
only contributes directly to anterior blepharitis, but also has a
deleterious effect on meibomian gland function.
49
In addition,
cleansing, done in combination with massage of the eyelid,
has multifactorial benefits on the function of the lacrimal
functional unit, that includes encouraging expression of
meibum, especially from blocked or partially blocked ducts
which have thicker, more waxy meibum, an effect that is
enhanced if the eyelid is warmed during the process to reduce
the waxiness and increase the fluidity of meibomian gland
secretions. This process will in turn improve the stability of
the lipid layer, with consequent benefits for the patient with
dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction.
Screening and risk assessment
Screening of patients could also be an important method for
identifying early cases of lacrimal functional unit disorders.
Epidemiological studies suggest that a considerable number
of patients attending ophthalmology practices have clinical
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signs of blepharitis, even where this is not the reason for the
consultation.
30
Likewise, the prevalence of dry eye disease
was found to be 14.4% overall, rising to 19% in those over
80 years of age
21
and to be diagnosed in twice as many
patients by Schirmer’s test as by reported symptoms.
50
These
findings suggest that there are undiagnosed cases of these
illnesses that may be revealed by screening. Early interven-
tion can prevent worsening of symptoms and the longer-term
sequelae of the illness.
51
Therefore, a wider concept of eyelid
health should include screening for disorders of the lacrimal
functional unit by clinical examination and questioning for
symptoms and signs, particularly in patients who may be at
higher risk (Table 1).
Although the causal links are not always clear, there is
now sufficient empirical evidence to identify patients who
are likely to be at risk from disorders of the lacrimal func-
tional unit and who are therefore most likely to benefit from
measures aimed at improving their eyelid health.
The increased susceptibility of contact lens users to a
variety of disorders, from mild blepharitis to infectious
keratitis, is well known.
52,53
Increased use of the Internet for
repeat purchase of contact lenses has resulted in less frequent
contact with ophthalmologists and an increased risk of associ-
ated pathology.
54
Given that rigorous eyelid hygiene has been
shown to reduce the risk of cancellation of cataract surgery
due to blepharitis, this group of patients may also be a useful
target for intervention with eyelid health practices.
55
Patient education
Patient education on the importance of maintaining a healthy
tear film and the role of the eyelids in overall eye health can
help compliance with a long-term, perhaps lifelong, commit-
ment to eyelid health. Patients can be instructed on how to
clean and massage the eyelid to promote its function, how
to avoid exacerbating factors, but most of all, encourage-
ment to continue cleaning and massage routines and active
follow-up will help them to maintain these routines. Patients
can also be helped with the recommendation of products that
make such hygiene procedures both effective and pleasant.
Soap and water washing does not have the effect on bacte-
rial colonization of the eyelids that might be expected,
56
and in
any case, effective cleansing of the eyelid margin is difficult
to achieve with soap and water because of discomfort of soap
in the eyes and likely harm to the tear lipid layer. Maintaining
compliance during a long-term, effective eyelid hygiene regime
with soap or baby shampoo is at best difficult (due to stinging)
and at worst harmful (damage to the eyelid lipid layer).
Preparations for long-term eyelid hygiene need to fulfill
a number of criteria, as outlined in Table 2. Although a
number of eyelid scrubs and eyelid cleansing systems exist
and patients appear to prefer them to simple soap or diluted
shampoos,
57
rather few have been submitted to any form of
clinical examination in eyelid disorders, though some have
been tested in the context of surgical interventions, rather
than routine day-to-day eyelid care.
55,58
Such eyelid cleansing
products exist in a variety of presentations, ie, solutions for
dissolving crusts, gels that encourage mechanical removal,
and ready-to-use pads and foams. Patients can be assisted to
select products that are most appropriate for their situation.
Eyelid cleansing procedures
The objective of eyelid cleansing is not only to remove
crust and debris from the lid margin, but also to express
meibum from the meibomian glands that may be partially
or completely blocked or be obstructed by thicker than nor-
mal or waxy secretions. The procedure will differ in detail
depending on the medium and product used, but the general
principles are as follows (Figure 4):
• A hot (not too hot) dampened compress or face cloth (the
compress or applicator supplied with a specific eyelid
cleansing system), should be held against the closed eye
for around 5 minutes. This loosens scales on the eyelid
margin and improves the fluidity of meibum. However,
warm compresses are a poorly standardized treatment and
nowadays new eyelid warming devices provide constant
and controlled moist heat therapy.
59
• There are a number of techniques for lid massage, which
helps express blocked meibomian glands. In general,
the massage should proceed from the root of the eyelid to
Table 1 Screening factors for development of eyelid disorders
Existing ocular disorder
Contact lens use
Rosacea and other skin disorders
Age
Existing systemic illness (especially diabetes, arthritis, thyroid disease) and
some specic pharmacological treatments
Sex hormone treatment or disorder (androgen deciency, androgen
therapy, and menopause, for example)
Table 2 Properties of an ideal eyelid cleanser
Property Benet
Effective removal of eyelid crusts Clinical improvement
Pleasant and easy to use Encourage long-term compliance
No preservative, parabens, perfume
or low toxicity alternatives where
preservatives are unavoidable
Avoid secondary effects
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the margin using a warm compress or a gentle pinching
action on the eyelid, again from root to margin.
• The lid margin should be cleaned by gentle rubbing with
a cotton bud or other applicator on the lid margin and just
inside the lid, avoiding contact with the eye.
Traditionally compresses, face towels, and baby shampoo
have been the mainstay of eyelid cleansing, but nowadays a
number of eyelid cleaning systems have been developed to
aid the process and make it more comfortable and acceptable.
Improved acceptability encourages the continued long-term
compliance required.
Clinical studies with eyelid cleansers
Although the use of compresses and face towels in eyelid
hygiene procedures is widespread, it is based more on extended
clinical experience than specific clinical trials.
60
However, there
are clinical trials with the newer eyelid hygiene systems, albeit
not controlled trials. An eyelid scrub known as I-Scrub (cur-
rently discontinued), the precise formulation of which is now
obscure following the demise of the company (Spectra Pharma-
ceuticals Hanover, MA)
61
was the subject of a single small study
in 20 patients with chronic blepharitis, the results suggesting
that it was well accepted, improved their condition, and did not
result in any deterioration in the patient’s condition.
62
A significantly larger, prospective, randomized, double-
blind study in 286 patients sought to assess the efficacy of
Blephasol
®
(Laboratoires Théa, Clermont Ferrand, France)
acapriloglycine-containing eyelid cleanser in reducing con-
junctival flora before cataract surgery. Although the number of
positive cultures was not reduced to a statistically significant
extent, treatment for 4–5 days reduced the number of differ-
ent organisms present (Staphylococci being almost the only
species).
61
Blephaclean
®
(Laboratoires Théa) is an eyelid-cleansing
system comprising wipes impregnated with a lipid micelle-
containing aqueous medium, which can be used to clean
the eyelids without rinsing or wiping afterwards. In a pro-
spective, open-label study of 40 subjects with dry eye and
mild-to-moderate anterior blepharitis or meibomian gland
dysfunction, there were significant reductions in eyelash
contamination and meibomian gland dysfunction, as well as
an improvement in the quality of meibomian secretion.
63
Blephagel
®
(Laboratoires Théa) is a cosmetic, poloxamer-
containing gel designed specifically for eyelid cleansing
in people with sensitive skin or eyes and in contact lens
users. The great majority of such subjects found the treat-
ment acceptable and efficient for day-to-day eyelid hygiene
procedures (Figure 5). In addition, assessment by an oph-
Figure 4 (A) Eyelid cleaning procedure: eyelid massage to express waxy meibomian
secretion. (B) Eyelid cleaning procedure: cleaning of eyelid margin.
Figure 5 Appraisal of efciency and acceptability by subjects in the presence of the
investigating ophthalmologist.
Notes: Acceptability and efciency (as a “cleaning product for eyelids and eyelashes”) of
the product was assessed by a self-administered questionnaire (on a 5-point ordinal
scale: nil, poor, fairly good, good, very good). Reprinted from Clin Ophthalmol. (6).
Doan S. Tolerability and acceptability of Blephagel: a novel eyelid hygiene aqueous gel.
6:71–77. © Copyright (2012), with permission from Dove Medical Press Ltd.
64
70
60
50
40
30
20
0
10
Poor Fairly good
Efficiency
Acceptability
% of subjects% of subjects
Good Very good
Poor Fairly good Good Very good
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
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thalmologist revealed no issues with lacrimal film break-up
time or visual acuity following use of the product, and the
great majority of subjects endorsed the properties of the gel
(Figure 6).
64
Blephagel may be a useful and convenient prepa-
ration for use in daily eyelid hygiene regimes for patients
with blepharitis.
A linalool-hinokitiol-based eyelid cleanser was very
effective in reducing microorganisms known to cause
endophthalmitis. The eyelid cleanser was more effective than
povidone-iodine against all organisms.
65
A comparative study of soap versus an eyelid scrub
revealed that the large majority of patients preferred an
eyelid scrub to soap and water. Twenty-six patients with
signs and symptoms of blepharitis, the majority of whom
were contact lens users, compared soap and water in one
eye and an eyelid scrub in the other over a 4-month trial
period. Although both cleansing regimens improved symp-
toms and slit-lamp findings, 17 of 25 patients completing
the trial period preferred the eyelid scrub whilst only two
of 25 preferred soap.
60
Although the clinical evidence for eyelid cleansing
products is not of the standard usually expected for pharma-
ceutical products, at least some of these products have been
studied clinically, are effective at cleaning the eyelid, and are
preferred by patients above baby shampoo and soap. In this
context, they form a useful tool for the ophthalmologist who
is encouraging their patients to persist with eyelid hygiene
regimens.
Conclusion
The lacrimal function unit is subject to a number of interact-
ing functional disorders, many of which have a chronic course
and necessitate long-term intervention and follow-up. Clearly,
the ophthalmologist plays an important role in identifying and
screening patients at risk and instituting treatment appropriate
to the stage or type of disease. Given the high prevalence of
eyelid disorders, examination of the eyelid should be a first
step in routine ophthalmological examination. Treatment is
required not only to reduce symptoms and improve patient
comfort, but also to prevent, delay, or avoid early reliance on
antibiotics and the more serious sequelae of the disorders.
Blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, and dry eye are
not disorders that are easily and quickly resolved by simple
prescription. Long-term, perhaps lifelong, daily eyelid hygiene
is required by the patient, and the ophthalmologist needs to
adopt a coaching role as well as a medical role to maintain
compliance in the long term. Patients need education to
understand their disorder and encouragement to persist with
daily eyelid hygiene. If patients understand the underlying
mechanism of eyelid cleaning and massage, they are more
likely to comply with it. Eyelid hygiene can also be considered
as a preventative means to maintain eyelid health. Patients also
Figure 6 Subject appraisal of the qualities and efcacy of Blephagel
®
. Reprinted from Clin Ophthalmol. (6). Doan S. Tolerability and acceptability of Blephagel: a novel eyelid
hygiene aqueous gel. 6:71–77. © Copyright (2012), with permission from Dove Medical Press Ltd.
64
Product suitable for the subject’s skin type
Pleasant to very pleasant product
20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Product suitable for “sensitive ” skins
Product suitable for “sensitive ” eyelids
“Good enough” consistency
“Good enough” texture
Easy application
The product does not leave the skin oily
The product does not leave the skin sticky
The product does not leave any traces
The product gives a pleasant sensation of freshness
The product softens the eyelids
The product soothes the eyelids
The product leaves the eyelids comfortable
The product is ideally suitable for the cleaning fo the eyelids,
the mucus and the squama which “clutter” the eyelash root
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need help in selecting the most appropriate eye care products to
assist their daily regime, and the ophthalmologist can suggest
preservative-free products which suit the particular lifestyle of
the patient and which make the daily routine of eyelid hygiene
easier and more effective.
Acknowledgment
JF Stolz provided assistance with preparation of the manuscript.
Disclosure
The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.
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... O cular surface diseases (OSDs) are considered to be a public health problem. [1] These diseases affect the cornea, conjunctiva, eyelids, or lacrimal glands. [2] Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), blepharitis, and dry eye are common conditions, [1] and increased incidences have been reported worldwide. ...
... [1] These diseases affect the cornea, conjunctiva, eyelids, or lacrimal glands. [2] Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), blepharitis, and dry eye are common conditions, [1] and increased incidences have been reported worldwide. [3][4][5][6][7][8][9] In 2008, one study of 420 Saudi ophthalmology patients reported an MGD prevalence of 77.6%. ...
... Eyelid hygiene remains the key to maintaining eyelid health and improving ocular symptoms. [1,25] However, studies on the awareness of eyelid hygiene habits among general populations worldwide, particularly in Saudi Arabia, are insufficient. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to assess the public awareness of eyelid hygiene in Saudi Arabia. ...
Article
Purpose: Incidences of ocular conditions, including meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), blepharitis, and dry eye have been increasing globally. Eyelid hygiene is key to maintaining ocular surface health and improving ocular symptoms. This study investigated the awareness of eyelid hygiene among the Saudi population. Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted between April 2020 and May 2020 across all regions of Saudi Arabia through the distribution of an electronic self-administered questionnaire among the Saudi population. Results: A total of 1102 responses were received (women, 76.3%; men, 23.7%). Only 33.2% respondents reported consciously washing their eyelids, while 70.1% had never heard about MGD; however, most of the respondents (93.2%) had heard about dry eye. Based on the questionnaire results, the Saudi population had suboptimal (18.4%) level of awareness of eyelid hygiene. At least one ocular symptom was reported by 98.1% of the respondents. Conclusion: The level of awareness of eyelid hygiene in Saudi Arabia was found to be suboptimal, particularly among patients with MGD and dry eyes. Poor knowledge about the benefits of daily eyelid hygiene was the primary barrier to its practice. We recommend that ophthalmologists raise awareness of good eyelid hygiene among patients with MGD and eye dryness. Despite the current findings, further studies and evidence are required before recommending daily eyelid hygiene practices in the general population, including those without clinical symptoms of MGD or eye dryness.
... 21 Also, several studies have revealed that the favorable effects of daily eyelid hygiene consisting of warm compress, lid massage, and cleaning on eye fatigue, dry eye symptoms, and visual acuity and recommended this regimen as a preventive medicine and health promotion. [21][22][23][24] Warm compress and mechanical lid massage induce the meibomian secretion (i.e., the tear film lipid layer is mostly [90%] derived from the meibomian oil secreted by the meibomian glands), while eye cleaning provides protein/lipid deposits around the eyelashes and eyelids and eliminates microbial agents such as Staphylococci and Demodex spp.. 25 Previous studies have confirmed the increased the secretion of meibomian lipids that are pathologically altered with warm compress, the outcomes may vary depending on the duration of application, degree of heat, and patient compliance. [22][23][24][25][26] It has been shown that the mean temperature ranges between 37.7 ± 0.3 and 41.6 ± 1.0 • C and the ideal temperature is 40 to 45 • C for warm compress. ...
... [21][22][23][24] Warm compress and mechanical lid massage induce the meibomian secretion (i.e., the tear film lipid layer is mostly [90%] derived from the meibomian oil secreted by the meibomian glands), while eye cleaning provides protein/lipid deposits around the eyelashes and eyelids and eliminates microbial agents such as Staphylococci and Demodex spp.. 25 Previous studies have confirmed the increased the secretion of meibomian lipids that are pathologically altered with warm compress, the outcomes may vary depending on the duration of application, degree of heat, and patient compliance. [22][23][24][25][26] It has been shown that the mean temperature ranges between 37.7 ± 0.3 and 41.6 ± 1.0 • C and the ideal temperature is 40 to 45 • C for warm compress. 27,28 Once the meibomian secretions are liquefied with warm compress, the main goal of lid massage is to reduce the clogging of the meibomian gland and to maintain sufficient drainage of the tears. ...
... 29 With similar effects to mechanical finger massage, intense pulsed light to the eyelid, high-frequency electrotherapy, meibomian gland compressors, and eye massagers with heat vibration have been also utilized in studies. 25,[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39] Previous studies have proven that eye cleaning is an effective approach to prevent meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and Demodex mites. 21,22 The most common used eye cleaning regimens include warm water in a washcloth, soaked cloths, cotton pads, or cotton tipped applicators, and gentle rubbing with baby shampoo, alone or combined. ...
Article
Background: Dry eye disease is one of the most common pathologies of the ocular surface. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the impact of eyelid hygiene on tear film stability, ocular symptoms, and vision-related quality of life among operating room staff. Methods: This single-blind, randomized-controlled study included a total of 142 eyes of 71 operating room staff with at least Stage I dry eye disease. The participants were divided into two groups: the intervention group (n=34) and control group (n=37). Tear break-up time, Schirmer 1 test, corneal staining grading, Ocular Surface Diseases Index, McMonnies Questionnaire, Visual Function Questionnaire were used for data collection. The intervention group received eyelid hygiene consisting of warm compress, massage, cleaning. Results: The mean age was 35.73±5.38 years in the intervention group and 38.72±6.49 years in the control group. Of the participants, 79% and 78% were females in the intervention and control groups, respectively. In the intervention group, the ocular symptoms regressed, tear break-up time, and Ocular Surface Diseases Index scores increased, the corneal staining grading decreased, ocular pain scores decreased, and mental health scores increased in the Visual Function Questionnaire subscales (p<0.05). In the control group, the tear break-up time and Ocular Surface Diseases Index scores decreased, ocular pain and existing symptoms increased, and mental health decreased (p<0.05). Conclusion: The results suggest that eyelid hygiene improves the ocular surface and tear film quality with reduced ocular symptoms and better vision-related quality of life in this population.
... Eyelid hygiene is considered the first-line treatment for MGD [7,8]. The role of eyelid hygiene is to effectively remove inflammatory debris and enhance the expression of meibum through massage and warming [9]. Previous studies have determined that eyelid hygiene has a significant effect on MGD by comparative analyses between the baseline and followup periods [10,11], or between treatments [10,12,13]. ...
Article
Full-text available
To determine the efficacy duration of eyelid hygiene for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) treatment, a total of 1015 participants with primary MGD, followed for at least 6 months, were enrolled. The participants were classified into the eyelid hygiene group and the control group. The participants who had stopped eyelid hygiene at any point in the observation period after the initial 2 months were classified into the withdrawal group. Analysis was conducted with a generalized linear mixed model. Treatment group, age, sex, ocular surface inflammation, anti-inflammatory treatments, and baseline MGD subtype were considered as fixed effects, and the individual factor was considered as a random effect. The MGD stage decreased significantly for the observational period in the eyelid hygiene group (p < 0.001). Approximately 40.1% of the participants continuously maintained eyelid hygiene throughout the observational period. The MGD stage in the eyelid hygiene group continued to decrease for 6 months and was maintained thereafter. After 4 months of stopping eyelid hygiene, the MGD stage in the withdrawal group was worse than in the eyelid hygiene group (p < 0.001) and similar to that in the control group (p = 0.762). Maintaining eyelid hygiene was significantly effective in MGD treatment. Efficacy increased with treatment for 6 months, and the efficacy duration was maintained for 4 months even after stopping eyelid hygiene. Therefore, we recommend that patients with MGD maintain eyelid hygiene, and compliance should be checked continuously.
... With MGD, as a major cause of dry eye disease, patients may claim various symptoms depending on the eyelid inflammation and the degree of dry eye. MGD is usually caused by cornification of ductal epithelium and the increased viscosity of meibum [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. Because meibomian glands exist under ocular conjunctiva and are only visible under infrared light imaging, it is necessary to perform meibography to accurately diagnose MGD and assess the meibomian gland condition. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Meibomian glands exist beneath the palpebral conjunctiva; thus, it is invisible to the naked eye without infrared imaging. This study used meibography to group patients with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and assessed the effects of hyperthermic massage and mechanical squeezing in both groups. Materials and methods Patients with MGD were divided into two groups, according to the degree of meibomian gland loss: group 1, in which the sum of eyelid scores ranged from 0 to 4 (mild to moderate gland loss) and group 2, in which the sum of eyelid scores ranged from 5 to 6 (severe gland loss). Hyperthermic massage and mechanical squeezing were given to both groups once a week for 4 weeks, and only non-preservative artificial tears were allowed. Ocular surface disease index (OSDI), Schirmer’s test, meibography score, tear break-up time (TBUT), ocular surface staining, expressible meibomian gland, and quality before and after treatment were compared. Results Of the 49 patients who completed the 4 weeks of treatment and the evaluation at week 5, 29 were assigned to group 1 and 20 were assigned to group 2. Meibography scores, OSDI, TBUT, and expressibility of meibum had significant differences before and after treatments in both groups. However, there was no significant difference between the changes in clinical signs between group 1 and 2 after treatment. Without grouping, all patients showed significant decreases in meibography score, OSDI, cornea staining score, and increases in TBUT and expressibility of meibum after treatment. Conclusions Considering the results of the current study, hyperthermic massage and mechanical squeezing may be effective in patients with meibomian gland loss, regardless of the degree of severity.
... As the day progresses, the use of computers, other electronic devices, or reading often bothers them more. Patients may mention that they feel like they have something in their eye, a foreign body sensation [10]. The ophthalmologist will obtain a medical and ocular history and perform a comprehensive eye evaluation when a patient presents with symptoms indicative of DED. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Dry eye disease (DED) has a higher incidence in old age and is seen predominantly in females worldwide. Neurosensory abnormalities, ocular surface inflammation and damage, film instability, and hyperosmolarity are major and proven pathologies responsible for a poor quality of life. Tear breakup time and Schirmer's I test are predominantly used for the evaluation of primary outcomes in patients undergoing conventional treatment. A previous meta-analysis of some relevant studies proved that combination of acupoints could be more effective than single acupoint treatment. Objectives: The present study aimed to undertake association rule mining and examined the potential kernel acupoint combination in DED treatment constructed from the extracted randomized controlled trials (RCTs) based on a previous meta-analysis. Methods: We summarized 32 acupoints as binary data from the 12 eligible RCTs and analyzed them based on the Apriori algorithm. Results: TE23, BL2, ST2, ST1, EX-HN5, BL1, LI4, ST36, SP6, and KI3 were the 10 most frequently selected acupoints. The major associated rules in combination of acupoints were {TE23, LI4} ≥ {ST1} and {TE23, ST1} ≥ {LI4}, as inferred from 23 association rules. Conclusions: For acupuncture treatment of DED, combined TE23, LI4, and ST1 acupoints could be settled as the kernel of acupoint combination.
... For those reasons a good eyelid hygiene is crucial for anterior blepharitis treatment but as well to prevent any other pathologies as AK by eliminating microorganisms namely bacteria (Benitez-del-Castillo, 2012) and Acanthamoeba. Consequently, the eye care practitioners (ECPs) emphasized the importance of eyelid hygiene in ocular and tear film health (Bitton et al., 2019). ...
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... However, eyelid hygiene is generally recommended in dry eye disease associated with blepharitis to reduce the bacterial load on the eyelid margin. 59 It has been noted that about 20% of patients with Sjögren's syndrome have anterior blepharitis and 52% have bilateral meibomian gland disfunction. 58 The bacterial components may include Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Propionibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium sp., and Moraxella. ...
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... Warm compress is conducted to heat the eyelid above the phase transition temperature of meibum which results in more meibum delivery to the eyelid 18 . Eyelid hygiene is reported to be particularly effective in eliminating waste products such as crusts, waxy meibum, and bacterial lipase in the eyelids and improving symptoms of anterior and posterior blepharitis [19][20][21][22] . In addition, eyelid hygiene performed before ophthalmic surgery is reported to significantly reduce bacteria in the eyelids 23 . ...
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