Sarah Stacey's Health & Wellbeing Notes: All you need to know about eyelids


Things you really need to know about eyelids

You might not think there was a lot to say about eyelids (other than perhaps the best eye shadow). Wrong… Talk to consultant ophthalmic surgeons like Professor Charles Clark and Mr. Richard Scawn and you might see your eyelids in a different light.

To start with, the skin of the upper eyelid is the thinnest in the face and indeed the whole body – just 0.5mm thick. So it needs a lot of TLC.

Your eyelids’ prime purpose is to protect your eyes, both as a shield against the outside and by blinking. When you blink, your eyelids spread moisture from the tear film over your eyes (see below for dry eyes though). Blinking also helps move dirt and other particles – like bits of make up - off the surface of the eye. Because we spend so much of our lives gazing at a screen, many of us don't blink as much as we should. So take regular blink breaks!

Eyelids can get infected, inflamed or even develop cancer. They’re one of the most common areas to be neglected when you apply sunscreen. Do apply a sunscreen or – in cooler climates - moisturiser with SPF. If your eyes are sensitive, try an SPF with a physical screen. (More here.)

Sunglasses don't just add instant glamour, they give protection against environmental stressors of all sorts, from UV light to pollutants. Go for big shades, like those in the picture above, with wide arms.

There are now gizmos on the market that are designed to be heated up and placed on closed eyes, allegedly to help dry eye conditions. I was told to relax while trying one brand but the heat caused so much pain I nearly shot out of the chair squeaking in agony. Professor Clark cautions against applying anything hot to the upper eyelid because the skin is so fragile.

If you have dry eyes, it’s good to steam your lids from the bottom lids upwards. Either hold a teaspoon or small cup of hot water under your eyes, or put your head over a bowl of steaming water – which does your skin a big favour too. Also consider using Viscotears Liquid Gel for Dry Eyes/£5.49, which helps replace the tear film. Available nationwide and But do check in with your doctor please.

As people get older, a tendency to hooded eyes can become so pronounced that the lids droop over the eye making it hard to see. A surgical procedure called blepharoplasty can correct this. With modern laser technology as opposed to the scalpels used in the past, blepharoplasty is now a quick procedure, which can be performed under local anaesthetic. Pain is usually minimal, likewise swelling and bruising, and patients are mostly back to normal living in a week.

However, it’s important to look after yourself before and after the operation. Do discuss this with your surgeon and be explicit about any supplements you are taking and also over the counter painkillers containing aspirin (salicylic acid). Many practices will have helpful patient information leaflets; there is also a useful  article called Preparing for Plastic Surgery from MakeoverGA, which you can download.

Photo by Azamat Zhanisov on Unsplash