The use of warm compresses in the treatment of evaporative dry eye due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is well documented. In fact, many people with MGD reported an improvement in the quality of their tears and therefore their ocular comfort after using warm compresses on a daily basis. Blepharitis is also improved with warm compresses.
Meibomian glands are located on the border of the lid margin close to the lash. They produce a substance called meibum. This meibum is actually a lipid that serves to stabilize our tears on the surface of the eye to retard evaporation. When the lipid layer no longer work, our tears evaporate too quickly between each blink and that’s when appears the symptoms of evaporative dry eye.
The meibomian glands normally produce a fluid transparant lipid which spreads easily on the cornea and conjunctiva with each blink. When we are affected by a meibomian gland dysfunction, lipid produced by these glands is much thicker (like toothpaste) and therefore more difficult to be secreted. In addition, it is of lesser quality. When the lipid is not secreted, it happens that the glands become clogged which has the effect of maintaining the dry eye viscious cycle.
Several studies suggest gently massage the eyelids after application of a warm compresses to facilitate the expulsion of liquefied lipid from your meibomian glands. If you proceed to massage the eyelids, do not forget to do it gently. The eyelid is a delicate area of human body. Also, do not forget it is strongly recommended that you clean the eyelids afterwards with a eyelid cleaser. Eyelid hygiene is very important when you deal with blepharitis or chronic dry eyes.
Heat released by a warm compresses is the basic treatment for blepharitis, chalazion and meibomian gland dysfunction. Indeed, the use of warm compresses operates to liquefy the meibomian secretions thereby restore a healthy tear film, and decrease symptoms of dry eye.