False eyelashes and eye health

Nicole Herbert - B.Optom (UJ), N.Dip Optical Dispensing (CPUT)

Believe it or not, our wonderful natural eyelashes play quite an important role in the health of our eyes. With their unique curved shape, not only do they act as a filter to sunlight, but they also help with maintaining eye moisture and reducing the air flow to the ocular surface.

While false lashes may give you the glamorous look you've always wanted, due to the fact that they are mostly synthetic ( with very few natural options ), means that they need to be correctly applied by a qualified professional.

Complications may include:

  • eye injuries : glue can cause scratching of the cornea ( the highly important front surface of the eye, partly responsible for clear vision )

  • infection : possible corneal ulcers and conjunctivitis, bacterial and fungal infections also happen when lashes are not glued on in a hygienic environment

  • allergic reactions : glue contains formaldehyde which is responsible for reactions such as rash,  swelling, burning, stinging ( all of which can happen either immediately or up to one week after contact )

  • damage : to the natural lashes as they cause stress on the hair follicles, making them more succeptible to falling out and possibly not growing back again

  • clogging of hair follicles : that results in external hordeolum which makes the lids feel heavy

  • vision loss : if bacterial infection or corneal ulceration occurs

What to look out for if you have false lashes:

  • swelling

  • soreness / tenderness

  • fever

  • pain

  • light sensitivity

  • blurred vision

  • redness

As mentioned before, these are best applied by qualified professionals, but in the event that you have them, here are a few tips that may help:

  • avoid lashes that have embellishments like glitter or jewels on them

  • try avoiding glue that contains formaldehyde

  • limit the amount of glue used

  • remove the lashes gently

  • clean the eyelids thoroughly after removal

  • do not share lashes with others

If you are wearing false lashes and experience any adverse reactions such as those listed above, please seek the help of your eyecare professional timeously.