Why are hot compresses not helping my blepharitis?

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Eye Health


Why are hot compresses not helping my blepharitis?


There are several reasons why your hot compresses might not be effective in treating blepharitis.

  1. Not all forms of heat treatment are equally effective.

To melt solidified oils in the meibomian glands, the heat needs to be the right temperature and has to be sustained for long enough to do the job. And, unfortunately, a wet cloth or even a microwaveable heat bag just isn’t going to cut it. Even if you get the right temperature to begin with, they simply cool down too fast.

At the Dry Eyes Clinic, we recommend using a USB-powered heated eye masks which will deliver a sustained heat for the length of time you need. Prices vary and do read the reviews if you are considering purchasing a cheaper option, as they are frequently flimsy and don’t last.

(We sell the Wizard Labs heated eye mask, which comes with a 12-month warranty. You can purchase one by contacting us 03333 444 977.)

  1. You aren’t applying pressure

The heat needs to be followed by pressure. Once the heat has melted the contents of the meibomian glands, you need gentle pressure to push it out.

After applying the heat, you should massage your eyelids to express the melted oils.

  • Making sure your finger is clean, rub your eyelids in a sweeping motion towards your eye lashes – sweeping downwards for the upper lids and upwards for the lower lids.
  • Do this for 5 seconds on each lid.
  1. Your meibomian glands may be blocked by fibrosis

Prolonged inflammation of the meibomian glands can lead to bands of scar tissue (fibrosis) forming, which then block the gland. Even if the hot compress is melting the oils, they can’t get out, and will just build up within the glands.

The only current method of unblocking glands which have fibrosis like this is meibomian gland probing. A test probe of a single gland can be carried out in your consultation to ascertain if that is the problem.

If you’re doing everything right and it’s still not helping, it’s time to see a dry eye specialist to investigate what else might be going on that’s causing your symptoms.

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