Eye masks can block out light and improve the quality of your sleep. But did you know they can also help with dry eye syndrome?

Your dry, sore, and irritated eyes can benefit from dry eye masks in many ways. These masks will act as a warm compress to soothe dryness, improve tear quality, and reduce inflammation. They can also help the eyes retain moisture.

But how do dry eye masks work? And what are the different options available on the market?

Read on to find out and better navigate through the ups and downs of eye masks and dry eyes.

How Do Eye Masks Help with Dry Eyes?

Eye masks for dry eyes come with different functions and uses. But they work towards the same goal: to relieve dry eye symptoms.

Heated eye masks can unclog your meibomian (oil-producing) glands. This improves the production of natural oils that prevent faster-than-normal evaporation of tears.

Studies show that for best results, you should ensure that the temperature of your mask is between 89.6ºF (32ºC) and 113ºF (45ºC).

You can heat these kinds of masks in a microwave or a bowl of boiling water. Apply them to your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes each day to see improvement in your dry eye symptoms.

Another type of mask is a cooling eye mask. You can think of it as an alternative to placing cucumber slices over your eyes. It can help alleviate dry eye symptoms like inflammation, redness, and puffiness, especially after an eye surgery.

old person with gray hair with eye mask covering his eye after eye surgery

You can chill the cooling mask in the refrigerator before applying it to your eyes. It will soothe the blood vessels around your eyes and stimulate the production of healthy tears.

There are some masks that help create a moist environment around your eyes. These masks are goggle-like and fit perfectly over the eyes. They have a special lining that traps moisture and keeps your eye well-lubricated for longer periods.

If the cause of your dry eyes is an eyelid malfunction, like nocturnal lagophthalmos in which your eyelids don’t fully close at night, you may benefit from sleep masks.

The mask will apply gentle pressure over your eyelids and keep them closed. They will also shield your eyes from artificial air and fans that may dry out your eyes.

What’s more, some eye masks are also infused with ingredients like lavender and chamomile. These not only offer a soothing aroma, but also promote relaxation and relieve stress.

Types of Eye Masks

There’s a wide range of dry eye masks available on the market, from heated masks to gel and silicon-based masks. With a bit of knowledge and consideration, you will be able to work your way through the right one for your condition.

  • Microwaveable eye masks: These masks are designed to be heated in a microwave. Made of soft fabrics, they are filled with materials like flaxseed, rice, or gel beads that can retain heat for long periods. The heat can help stimulate the production of oils, improve tear quality, and reduce dryness.
  • Self-heating eye masks: Similar to microwavable eye masks, self-heating masks provide heat to ease your dry eye symptoms. But their heating mechanism is different. They begin to warm up once exposed to the air and are a convenient option if you don’t have access to a microwave.
  • USB-heated eye masks: These are similar to the other heated eye masks for dry eyes. But they are powered by a USB port. They also come with advanced features like multiple heat levels and a timer. The biggest advantage of these masks is that the temperature remains constant throughout. This eliminates the need of reheating your eye masks.
  • Cooling eye masks: Cooling eye masks can reduce inflammation and swelling around your eyes. These are made of gel beads that can be chilled in the freezer before use. Applying them to your eyes for a few minutes will constrict your blood vessels, providing relief from inflammation and redness.
  • Gel eye masks: You can use a gel eye mask either hot or cold. When heated in the microwave or a bowl of hot water, it can help combat meibomian gland dysfunction. When placed in the freezer and used as a cooling mask, it can relieve inflammation and puffiness.
  • Sleep masks: A night eye cover is used to block out light and apply gentle pressure to your eyes as you sleep. While this in itself will improve your dry eye symptoms in the morning, sleep masks can be particularly helpful if you have eyelid problems, like blepharitis (inflamed eyelids), nocturnal lagophthalmos (weakened eyelids), or meibomian gland dysfunction.
  • Moisturizing eye masks: These masks are designed to trap moisture and keep your eyes hydrated for longer. They are made with a soft, comfortable material with a special lining that prevents moisture loss while you sleep.

Are Eye Masks Safe?

Eye masks are a safe option to treat dry eye symptoms. Whether you’re using them as a warm or cool compress, they can improve oil production, reduce inflammation, and soothe dryness.

That said, you need to use eye masks with caution. Read the instructions manual carefully before applying them. Make sure to heat or cool them as specified.

Before applying them to your eyes, check the temperature. Overheated eye masks can burn the areas around your eyes. In comparison, cooling eye masks are safer.

closeup of woman seated with chin on hands before lighted microwave with shadows in the background

But don’t use them for more than 10-15 minutes at a time or they may cause abnormal widening of the blood vessels and burning sensations.

In addition, certain eye masks may not be recommended for your condition. For instance, if the cause of your dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction, cooling gel masks may worsen your condition. Talk to your eye doctor about which eye mask is suitable for you.

Keep Your Eyes Happy

Whether you’re looking for a heated eye mask, a cooling patch for relaxation, or just an eye cover for sleep, eye masks may help.

They work to increase oil production, reduce inflammation, and keep your eyes lubricated for longer. Plus, they are a hassle-free and inexpensive way to combat dry eye symptoms.

So, if your eyes are feeling dry, sore, and irritated, you can use them safely. But remember that dry eyes can have many underlying causes including insufficient nutrient intake.

An eye health supplement like SightC from Sightsage can provide your eyes with the nutrients they need to produce healthy tears in sufficient quantities.

SightC is a proprietary premium superfood blend including goji berry, turmeric, Cherokee rose, and Chinese yam, and other whole foods long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat eye ailments.

This synergistic blend of natural ingredients provides lutein, zeaxanthin, omega 3-fatty acids, vitamins B1 and C, zinc, and other antioxidants and nutrients that sustain eye health in the digital age.

Keep your eyes happy with SightC.

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