Friday 7 June 2019

Solved: The Case Of The Watery Eye

I have been plagued with a watery eye for such a long time, too long in fact. My left eye seems to cause a lot of fuss and drama any time make up comes into close contact, so much so that I went days without wearing any eyeshadow or mascara to see if it would surrender. It did dry up on a few occasions, only to become teary again the day after. I became accustomed to carrying my trusty MAC Teddy kohl pencil in my bag, ready to touch up the 'circle of doom' that would form on my outer corner. Of course, anyone who suffers from such an annoying condition knows that fixing an area under your eye after it has been watering is virtually impossible.

I tried everything, antihistamines, eye drops, nasal spray, not wearing makeup, only using certain eyeshadows, changing my mascara, deep cleaning my makeup brushes, throwing out my old eyelash curler... You name it, I tried it.

I convinced myself it was an allergic reaction to a red colouring found in the majority of eyeshadow brands, especially those that produced purple, deep browns and plum shades. I stuck to neutral, beige, light brown colours and honestly, as dramatic as it sounds, I didn't feel like myself. I am used to sporting a super smokey, deep plum eye, and there I was with a taupe eyeshadow and the slightest touch of mascara.

One day, at the end of my tether I decided to phone the doctor. Many of you may think this is a 'first world problem', and that a watery eye isn't something that should hinder your everyday life, but it did for me. The constant watering not only ruined my blending, my eye became stingy, irritated and the skin around it began to dry out and turn red. So enough was enough, the doctor was my only option. The receptionist suggested that since appointments were few and far between, an optician may be able to help sooner, so I rang my nearest Vision Express and was booked in for an eye test at 2pm that afternoon.

The lady in Vision Express obviously tested my eyesight, something which I haven't had done in probably about 20 years. I was then taken into another room with an optometrist, where I explained my issue and she suggested a couple of possible causes. She of course had all the machinery and gadgets to get to the root of the problem, by studying the surface of my eye through what seemed to be a huge, very technical looking microscope.

After confirming the back of my eyes were 100% healthy, she checked the moisture levels and was able to tell straight away that there was an issue. The close up was able to show the water in my eye was disappearing in a matter of seconds every time I blinked, something caused by a lack of oil. We all have a mixture of oil and water in our eyes, the oil seals in the water to stop evaporation, and because I was lacking in oil, the water that was supposed to be keeping my eye comfortable wasn't able to do its job, and was escaping through the outer corner, hence the constant watering. Interesting!

So what causes this? Well, the lack of oil in my eye was due to blocked oil glands along the lash line. The optometrist said she could see, through the microscope, some black substance along where the oil glands would usually expel their oil from. This may be a build up of makeup that I thought I had removed, and over time it had formed a layer, blocking my oil ducts and causing mayhem. Also, using products in the waterline is a big factor in causing such a blockage, especially if it's a waterproof product that will not let the oil penetrate through.

How do you go about fixing it? The optometrist explained that although it's easy to fix, it can take a lot of patience and daily eye compresses to solve, and that it may be a matter of weeks before I notice a difference. She also recommend buying flaxseed oil to take as a supplement, and after doing some research on the matter, I realised how many studies there are highlighting the benefits of flaxseed in solving eye issues like mine.

I quickly hotfooted it to Holland & Barrett and picked up a bottle of flaxseed capsules (1000mg) and I now take two every morning. I have also been religiously using a face cloth dipped in warm water pressed over my eye for around five minutes every evening, then massaging the area to push the oil from the glands. The hot compress helps to loosen any matter that may be blocking the glands, therefore making it easier for the oil to get back to doing its job. I wasn't expecting miracles, but apparently they do happen.

I was slightly sceptical to begin with, having tried so many different things to curb the problem. However, after one night of using a hot face cloth and massaging below my lash line,  I  noticed a difference. I had a small amount of watering in the morning when putting on my makeup, but after that it stopped and remained dry for the rest of the day. Over the following days I noticed when I woke up in the morning, my eye didn't feel as dry, or irritated on the outer corner. Whether it's the flaxseed or the hot compress, I am extremely pleased and grateful that I finally have an answer. I had been hassled for so long by my watery eye and it became the norm, when really I didn't have to put up with it.

Of course I may always be susceptible to having a dry eye, but if that means having to take flaxseed and use hot compresses for the foreseeable future, then so be it. I looked into makeup that can block oil glands, and basically eyeliners and mascara are the worst culprits, especially those that are waterproof. I used a waterproof mascara for years so this may have contributed to the problem, and I use kohl pencils and waterproof gel liners that are probably doing more damage than good. It is annoying that I may have to be careful with the products I use around my eyes, but it's a small price to pay for having comfortable eyes again.

I also queried the use of dry eye drops with the optometrist,  as I had spent a clean fortune trying various brands and formulas. Apparently they are a quick fix, but will not get to the root of the problem. They can be good used in the morning to give your eyes a moisture boost, but using them long term probably doesn't have any lasting effect.

I have still been able to use eyeshadow and a pen liner on the top lash line, so far without any watering, and I am slowly reintroducing products back into my makeup after casting them aside thinking I was allergic to them.

I must also mention that while doing my research on irritating makeup ingredients, I came across numerous chemicals that are used in all sorts of makeup that are listed as eye irritants. So if you find you have a watering eye, and a hot compress doesn't do the trick, maybe start studying the ingredients lists of the products you're using. It's quite scary to see what companies can get away with using in their eyeshadows and liners, and extremely surprising to see that a lot of products for use around the immediate eye area are packed full of potentially irritating ingredients. I am also accepting of the fact that I may use an eyeshadow one day that just annoys my eyes, and they may begin to water, but it's simply trial and error.

Anyway, if you have a watering eye issue I hope this has been helpful for you. I am extremely happy that such an annoying problem had a relatively easy solution and now I can enjoy wearing eyeshadow again. Long may it last!


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