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How Eye Masks Can Help with Dry Eyes

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A close up of a woman wearing a bruder eye mask to help with her dry eye disease.

Dry eye is a common and often frustrating condition. Not only can it cause discomfort, but it can also lead to irritating symptoms like burning and blurry vision. But an eye mask can help. 

Eye masks help the eyes retain moisture, relieve redness and irritation, and improve sleep quality.

If you have dry eye symptoms, book an eye exam with your eye doctor for a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan that works for you. 

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a condition where your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, leading to irritation and discomfort. Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, is the most common cause of dry eye.

MGD occurs when the meibomian glands, the tiny glands in your eyelids that make oil for your tear, become clogged or dysfunctional.

The oil they produce is an essential ingredient of the tear film. If your meibomian glands aren’t working right, your tears won’t function properly. 

Dry eye can cause uncomfortable symptoms and blurred vision and lead to eye health complications if not treated. It’s important to see your eye doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms. Your eye doctor can suggest treatments to help manage MGD.

Dry eye presents a significant health concern in Ontario, affecting approximately 22% of the population

The Tear Film & Its Relationship to Dry Eye 

The tear film is essential for maintaining eye health, comfort, and clear vision. However, if there is a disruption in the tear film, whether it’s due to insufficient production or poor quality of tears, dry eye can develop. 

Dry eye symptoms often include

  • Stinging, burning, or scratchy eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Overly watery eyes (the body’s response to the dryness)

It’s important for the layers of the tear film to work together smoothly to prevent discomfort and keep your vision clear.

Different Layers of the Tear Film

The tear film consists of 3 layers:

  • The inner mucin layer makes sure the tear film is evenly distributed across the surface of the eye.
  • The middle aqueous (water) layer consists of water, salts, and proteins that maintain moisture, remove small irritants, and protect from infection.
  • The outer lipid (oily) layer prevents the tear film from evaporating too quickly.

Each layer is critical for keeping your eyes healthy, comfortable, clear, and happy.

Eye Masks for Dry Eye Relief

Eye masks can help relieve the symptoms of MGD. They provide comfort and gentle warmth and are easy to use, accessible, and comfortable. A highly recommended eye mask is the Bruder Mask by Labtician

The heat and gentle compression from the eye mask can aid in unclogging the meibomian glands by melting the blockages and facilitating healthy oil secretion. Specialty eye masks can trap moisture and maintain hydration, effectively addressing dry eye symptoms over time. 

The Bruder eye mask is a specialized warming mask featuring patented MediBeads® Technology. When you heat it in the microwave, it gets nice and warm and keeps that heat even. You can use it every day if you need to. 

It hangs onto moisture naturally and slowly lets out the warmth, which soothes dry eyes or discomfort around your eyes. They’re also durable and washable. 

How Do Eye Masks Help?

Eye masks help improve dry eye symptoms by: 

  • Retaining moisture: Heated eye masks open and unclog meibomian glands, promoting oil secretion for natural lubrication and moisture retention.
  • Relieving redness & irritation: The mask’s warmth dilates blood vessels, enhancing moisture absorption, reducing redness, and alleviating irritation. 
  • Promoting eye health & relaxation: They provide a calming effect with warm, gentle pressure. Infusing them with therapeutic herbs and essential oils (like chamomile, lavender, or green tea extract) provides extra anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
  • Improved sleep quality: These masks block light for improved melatonin production, regulating sleep cycles. Improving sleep supports the body’s healing process and can improve dry eyes.
A woman in an optical clinic shaking hands with her optometrist

The Benefits of Eye Masks for Soothing Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but eye masks are a simple, accessible way to help alleviate symptoms. 

Not all eye masks are created equal, nor should they be used in place of professional treatment from your eye doctor. So, if you’re incorporating eye masks into your eye care routine, make sure that you choose a reliable and high-quality product that suits both your budget and your needs. 

The best way to find relief from dry eye symptoms is to book an appointment with your eye care teams at Collingwood Optometry & Cwood Eyecare

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Dr. Jayne

Written by Dr. E. J. Cation

Dr. E. Jayne Cation was born and raised in rural Caledon. She completed her Honours BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 2008 and then graduated with honours as a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2012.

Dr. Cation is a proud member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists and Canadian Association of Optometrists. She is also a Quality Assurance Assessor with the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

More Articles By Dr. E. J. Cation

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