Why do we need eyelashes?
You may only think of your eyelashes as a means to beautify your eyes, creating a more dramatic look to your face, particularly for women, but these fine hairs have a stronger purpose. They can prevent any of those small particles floating around from getting into your eyes. This includes tiny pieces of dust, sand and other debris and foreign matter. If these were to get into your eye, they could cause harm. Your eyelashes are also able to perform another role and that is to provide a warning that an object may be too close to your eye. Think of it like the whiskers on a cat or dog. When anything gets too close, your eyes will be triggered to blink, preventing the object from touching your eyeball. Blinking can also help to distribute tears, moisturising and cleaning your eyes. This makes it important to care for your eyelashes. Here are some of the common problems you might encounter where your lashes are concerned, and the ways you can treat them.
What happens if I have misdirected lashes?
This condition is also known as trichiasis and means your eyelashes may grow inwards towards your eye. These can rub against the cornea, which is the clear layer covering your iris and pupil, irritating your eye. Corneal scratches can lead to infection and scarring of the eye, so if you suspect you may have trichiasis, make an appointment with your optometrist. Sometimes this can be a temporary issue in children, who rub their eyes, causing the lashes to turn inwards. Tear ointment may be required to prevent this and the misdirected lashes may need to be pulled out. If you need to wear an eyepatch, see if your optometrist can recommend one that will allow plenty of room for your eyelashes.
Why are my eyelashes falling out?
If you notice an abnormal amount of eyelashes falling out, this could be caused by a condition known as blepharitis. This is an irritation of your eyelids at the point where your eyelashes join them. It can result in red and itchy eyelids and flaky skin as well as loss of eyelashes. As this is usually the result of a bacterial infection or can be caused by abnormal oil production in the glands of the eyelids. This means it may only occur in one eye, but it usually affects both. It is rare that blepharitis would affect your eyesight, but it is important to visit your optometrist who can give you personalised advice if this condition is ongoing. Once this is treated, your eyelashes should begin to regrow naturally.
How can I get long, luscious looking eyelashes?
Many women (and men) dream of having long and healthy looking eyelashes and there are some tricks available to help promote the growth and health of these hairs - even if you have lost them due to illness or through other medical treatments. Eyelashes last around three months before falling out and can take up to two months to completely grow back to the way they were. The best way to look after your lashes is to avoid touching them, as they can be damaged by wear and tear. If you must touch your eyes or eyelashes, make sure you have thoroughly scrubbed your hands first and avoid excess rubbing. Other behaviours to avoid include sleeping in mascara as this can cause your eyelashes to become stiff and break. Wearing waterproof mascara could also be another trigger for breakage as this can be harder to remove, so you may rub harder at your eyes, which can be aggressive where your eyelashes are concerned. Make sure you replace your mascara wands every 3-6 months as these can harbour bacteria that can encourage eye infections. If your eyes go pink or you notice any other side effects when using eye make up, stop using the product. If you are concerned about the reaction, seek professional advice. To promote eyelash growth, you may want to consider adding more protein, B vitamins and omega 3 into your diet as these optimise hair growth. There are products on the market targeted at eyelash growth, including drops and creams. Before using these products, you should consult your GP or optometrist as you could experience unwanted side effects, particularly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.