Do you find that by the end of the day, your eyes aren’t just tired but dry and itchy too?
Although there are many potential reasons for this, one solution can cure them all.
Heated eye masks!
They feel so good after a long day especially if you spent it at the computer or outside in the sun.
Not only can heated eye masks relieve scratchy eyes, but there is also a slew of other conditions in which these masks can cure.
First Off, What is Dry Eye Anway?
Many things cause dry eye syndrome (DES), but when the eye lacks sufficient moisture to function unimpededly, problems arise.
Your body must continuously build and replenish its tear films, or your eyes will suffer an itchy fate.
This layer of film coats the exterior of your eyes in tears that acts as a barrier against air, debris, and light.
Without this wafer-thin layer of moisture, your eye has no protection, leading to these symptoms:
• Stinging, itching, or burning sensations
• Stringy mucous in the corners of your eyes
• Light sensitive
• Decreased night vision
Anatomy Of The Eye
To better understand the adverse effects of dry eye, you need to know how the eye functions under normal circumstances.
Damage or disruption to the tear film, lacrimal gland, ocular surface, eyelids, and even the nervous system can lead to dry eyes, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
It consists of three layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucous.
The lipid or fatty layer is essential in preventing evaporation, thus prolonging the tear films’ longevity.
This layer does so by regulating the thickness of the layer based on external temperatures and light conditions.
The aqueous layer is the medical terminology for the eyes’ coat of tears.
What many people aren’t aware of is, is that there are proteins in tears that lubricate the eye as well as supply it with nutrients.
Lastly, the innermost layer of the eye is the mucous layer which consists of electrolytes, water, and secreted mucins.
The coating works in conjunction with the aqueous layer to maintain proper moistness and lubrication.
No matter which layer is afflicted, dry eyes are the most likely outcome.
Despite having the bare minimum protection, our eyes are among the weakest and most susceptible to injury. Unfortunately, many things cause these layers to be disturbed.
This gland is located above your eye’s outer corner and is roughly 2cm in length.
Its primary responsibility is to deliver tears to the aqueous layer.
Once the tears travel the length of the eye, they drain into the lacrimal lake (inner corner of the eye) and dissipate in the lacrimal lake that starts at the base of your nose, traveling down to your nasolacrimal duct.
These are responsible for lubricating the ocular surface of your eyes.
Without them, you’d never have relief.
When we blink, the lacrimal gland activates, secreting aqueous fluids.
Besides that, eyelids offer protection to the cornea while you sleep or against inclement weather.
5 Reasons You Might Have Irritated Eyes
Since we know what DES is and the tear film layers are, let’s dive into what triggers this condition.
Many of the everyday tasks we do can cause our eyes to become itchy, red, dry, and irritated.
As we age, it’s natural for the body to develop issues.
Unfortunately, with age comes a lack of tear production. Age itself isn’t the only factor, as seniors often take more medication which could be the source of the decreased tears.
Furthermore, the older we become, muscles become weaker and laxer.
When this happens in eyelids, it can disrupt the smooth distribution of the protective film. If the dispersion of the watery fluids isn’t uniform, this can cause your eyes to become itchy, puffy, and red.
Believe it or not but your gender can affect your chances of developing dry eye syndrome.
As current evidence suggests, women are at a greater risk than men aged 40 and up. This is purely a result of hormones.
As estrogen levels, testosterone, and progesterone fluctuate in the female body, this can affect the quality of the tear film.
In particular, the combination of abnormally higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels is a significant risk factor.
Pregnancy exacerbates these issues, and in some soon-to-be mothers, they may develop extreme light sensitivity.
The term for this is photophobia, and it refers to pain rather than the fear of light. Lastly, morning sickness causes dehydration, which can also result in DES.
Anyone who wears makeup and eyeliner is more likely to contract DES due to irritants in the products.
Additionally, makeup removers are known to dissipate the tear film causing premature evaporation.
No matter how you approach it, makeup can be the reason why your eyes itch so frequently.
However, the total representations of the genders aren’t accurate due to men being less likely to seek medical care.
Even by removing pregnancies from the scenario, men are still 33% less likely to visit a medical professional.
3. Pre-existing Conditions
According to research, the lion’s share of those suffering from dry eye syndrome also have MGB or Blepharitis.
You can find these conditions in roughly 90% of the more than 100 million confirmed cases of dry eye.
MGB is shorthand for meibomian gland dysfunction, which is when the oily glands of your eyelids clog and inflame.
This condition chronically thins your tear film and causes a feeling of something being stuck in your eye when nothing is there.
Blepharitis also causes eyelid irritation, it’s associated with crusty eyelashes and red, swollen lids.
Did you know that this condition is rather widespread?
In fact, it’s currently afflicting roughly a third of the United States population, and this is true regardless of the day.
4. Environmental Conditions
Regardless of what’s burning, smoke and fire are both capable of causing dry eyes.
However, certain materials such as leaves could trigger an allergic reaction when ignited, often worsening dry eye symptoms.
This is why your eyes often sting, burn or itch if you’re too close to the bonfire or grill.
Cigarette smoke has thousands of toxic chemicals in it, and none of them are easy on the eyes.
Smokers are twice as likely to develop DES than nonsmokers.
For nonsmokers, secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking and carries the same implications for their eyes.
While many associate hot, dry climates with DES that isn’t the case exclusively.
While Death Valley can aggravate eyes, so can the extreme Arctic cold. Any overly chilly or dry to the bone climate can affect the quality of your tear film, causing itchy, dried, uncomfortable eyes.
Computers, phones, tablets, and all other screens you use daily aren’t good for your peepers or your overall health.
As we continue to stare at digital pixels, we blink less and strain more.
These combine to thin our tear film slowly throughout the day, leaving us with itchy eyes, a headache, and a stiff neck after work.
What Are Heated Eye Masks?
In a word, relief.
You know the feeling of a warm washcloth but only better and without getting wet.
How Do Heated Masks Help with DES?
In just a fraction of that time, you can alleviate eye irritation.
The heated elements of the mask stabilize the tear film, promotes tear production, calms your eyelids, and soothes pain and discomfort.
Eye masks loosen clogs by supplying continued warmth, allowing tear flow to resume to its prior efficiency.
Another perk of masks is their ability to hydrate eyelids by promoted tear production & the warmth instantly provides relief from scratchy eyelids.
This two-for-one benefit will immediately relieve discomfort from blinking.
Another little-known fact about heated masks is that they can treat symptoms caused by allergies, making DES worse.
The heat produce by masks stimulates blood circulation, which carries needed nutrients to your body to combat the allergens.
With so many things that cause dry and irritated eyes, it’s a matter not if but when you’ll get it.
Whether from your day job or allergies, you can alleviate all the pain by using a self-heating eye mask for less than an hour.
I’d love to hear if you’ve used a heated mask or plan to after learning about them.