Hold the Waterline: Eye Make-Up and Dry Eyes

Check an ocular anatomy book and you’ll discover that a “Waterline” does not exist. But check recent articles in women’s magazines — and you will find references to the “Waterline”. Articles on make-up frequently recommend placing eyeliner on the inner rim of your eyelashes. They usually state something to the effect that placing make-up on the waterline makes the whites of your eyes look whiter.

Actually, it can make eyes look more bloodshot because some of the make-up will ultimately flake into the eyes and irritate them.

The inner rim of the eyelash line is where you will find openings to meibomian glands. These delicate glands produce a crucial portion of the tears that bathe the cornea and keep it from drying out. Placing make-up in this area can plug up these important glands. And, make-up in this area is very difficult to remove properly which can mean that the glands are continually blocked.

We have had many patients over the years whose dry eye and other ocular symptoms dramatically improved when they stopped blocking up their meibomian gland openings with make-up and/or the make-up remover they used to try to get the make-up off.

Wearing make-up outside the eyelash line is fine. Wearing make-up inside the eyelash line (or on the “Waterline”) — not a good idea.

It’s funny that while writers in professional eye care journals are frequently writing articles about meibomian gland dysfunction; writers at beauty magazines are writing articles about how to muck up meibomian glands!

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia. Her eye care practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of  basic and high tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames for adults and children.