Dry eye syndrome (DES) is rampant, and its management includes such diverse options as artificial tears, punctual plugs and meibomian gland expression. These therapies all exist alongside a much more homespun remedy—warming compresses. A whole cottage industry of eyelid warming masks (EWMs) is available and, according to newly published research, may be just as effective as using drops for some patients.1

Ocular surface dryness is common among contact lens wearers—researchers estimate approximately 40% of them suffer from dry eye.2 It’s impact is the most common reason for contact lens discomfort and explains the majority of contact lens dropouts.2

A South Korean study looked at 81 university students who wore contact lenses. The students were randomly divided into three groups: one that used artificial tears, one that applied an eyelid warming mask and one group that underwent no treatment as a control.1 The investigators gathered all participants’ ocular surface disease index (OSDI) and Schirmer test scores both at baseline and after four weeks.

After treatment, the mask and artificial tear groups both had significantly decreased OSDI scores compared with the control group.1 However, there was no significant difference between the two treatment groups.1

“Applying a warm compress with EWM can be recommended as a treatment for DES in contact lens wearers who use lenses for an extended period,” the study authors wrote in their paper on the study.1

1. Jeon J, Park S. Comparison of the efficacy of eyelid warming masks and artificial tears for dry eye symptoms in contact lens wearers. Cont Lens Ant Eye. March 10, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Markoulli M, Kolanu S. Contact lens wear and dry eyes: challenges and solutions. Clin Optom (Auckl). 2017;9:41-8.