Dr. Mila Ioussifova

Dr. Mila Ioussifova

What causes dry eye?

“Dry eye is a multifactorial disease,” says Dr. Mila Ioussifova, the dry eye specialist and owner of South Waterfront Eye Care. “Some of the causes are age, sex, systemic health issues, medications, and digital screen time, to name a few. However, you might not realize that the makeup or skin care products you use every day could also be causing your dry eye.”

How can makeup cause dry eye?

First, it is important to apply makeup safely. For example, when eyeliner is applied on the eyelid margin or the waterline, it can clog the meibomian glands found along the top and bottom eyelids. This increases tear evaporation, which eventually leads to dry eye. In order for an ocular surface to be healthy, homeostasis must be maintained, meaning that the tear film has the right balance of aqueous, lipids, enzymes, etc. The harsh chemicals from makeup can get into the tear film and cause irritation, an allergic reaction, and even change the composition of the tear film, resulting in dry eye symptoms.

What about the name-brand cosmetics? They must be safe to use.

Unfortunately, the cosmetic industry is poorly regulated. Even the name-brand cosmetics that cost hundreds of dollars have ingredients that are undesirable and even harmful to the ocular surface. Europe has banned 1,500 chemicals from their beauty products, while the United States has banned only 30. So, it is really up to us to learn about the ingredients in our products. I often have my patients bring in their products or pull up the ingredient list online to see if what they are using is safe.

So what should we do? Is it best to just avoid makeup if you have dry eye?

You know, we are doing a much better job of looking at our food labels and avoiding ingredients we don’t recognize. We should be making this a habit with our skincare or beauty products too. There are resources that can help navigate the long ingredients lists, such as the Healthy Living and Think Dirty apps. The importance of clean ingredients also applies to makeup removers, as most of them are full of ingredients that should not be anywhere around the eyes. I also suffer from dry eye, and I could not find a makeup remover that did not irritate my eyes. So, I developed my own called HEKA Clean makeup remover.

What is HEKA Clean makeup remover?

HEKA clean makeup remover is a simple formula with three organic ingredients: argan, lavender, and tea tree oils. These oils are carefully chosen not just because of their high performance in removing makeup, but also because they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and antimicrobial therapeutic properties. Why not remove makeup and nourish the skin and lashes at the same time?

What should dry eye patients expect when they come to South Waterfront Eye Care?

When patients have dry eye disease, our goal is to find the root cause of their dry eye and to treat it. We know that using artificial tears only temporarily helps, and often symptoms return only to leave patients relying on using drops more frequently. We have invested in the latest technologies for diagnosing and then treating this condition. Some of the treatments we offer are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), RadioFrequency (RF), Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), and more. 

It should be no surprise that nutrition also plays a role in dry eye, just as it does in any other chronic systemic condition. I am in the process of becoming a certified nutrition specialist, so nutritional recommendations are often a part of the therapy and management for my patients with dry eye disease. We understand how debilitating dry eye symptoms can be, which inspires us to stay up to date on all the new therapies for this chronic and progressive condition. ​​My patients often tell me, “I don’t think about my eyes anymore, they are normal!” I never get tired of hearing them say that because I know we’ve made a positive and significant impact on their lives.

For more information about South Waterfront Eye Care’s practice, visit their website at southwaterfronteyecare.com or call 971-229-0820.

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