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April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month!

Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems? Dr. Grupcheva, specialist in ophthalmology, tells us about the reasons why and gives out some practical recommendations.


" Research shows that eye cosmetics and cosmetic procedures are amongst the most common practice for women. From an eye care perspective, it is important to realize that the ocular surface is an extremely delicate structure which might be affected by any intervention, and that certainly includes make-up. This could be associated with a number of acute and chronic problems affecting the vision, perceptual comfort (eye feeling) and eventually results in red eye.
In general, most of the "permanent" procedures (eyelash curling, perming, artificial lashes, etc), are using strong chemicals and have more negative effects on the lashes, the delicate glans of the conjunctiva and the lids, and certainly the tear film. Therefore, my general recommendation is to abstain from those procedures, especially if side effects like eyelash loss, red eye or discomfort were encountered, even on occasion. Although little is published about waterproof cosmetics, it is well known that it blocks the lipid producing glands (an important component of the tears) and therefore lead more often to dry eye and contact lens intolerance. Moreover, those products are more difficult to clean, and on the long run, negatively affect (chronic inflammation) the margins of the lids.
It is difficult to judge any single component included in the cosmetic products, but raising awareness is important. History and published literature, show different complications (local and systemic), especially when the product contains even small traces of potentially toxic agents. It must also be noted that allergy, which is a major health issue nowadays, might be triggered by any cosmetic product, including eye cosmetics.
Finally, there are several situations when women are prone to share eye cosmetics: for trial, for professional treatments, for socializing with friends, etc. This is an extremely bad habit because the personal microbiome (good bacteria) is not the same for every person. Moreover, in recent years, we have had a small epidemic of Demodex (a little mite that lives in eyelash roots). The eggs of Demodex are relatively robust and survive for up to one month in oily substances, especially mascara. 
There is not a universal formula for every person, but there are simple rules that are helpful in preventing complications:
1. Always meticulously remove the make-up before sleeping, preferably with specialist recommended product suitable for your lids;
2. Use water soluble products which in general have less harmful effects on the tear film;
3. Do not use the product beyond its expiration date and no longer than recommended;
4. Do not share eye cosmetics;
5. Read the information leaflet and whenever possible, avoid products containing chemicals that may cause unknown effects;
6. In case of any problem, consult with your eye specialist.
Prof. Dr. CN Grupcheva graduated at Medical University of Varna, and became a specialist in ophthalmology in 1996. She continued her studies with short fellowships at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and Dundee University, UK. In 2000 she relocated to New Zealand as a Senior Research Fellow at Auckland University for three years. During that period she completed a PhD with high commendations and Best Doctorial Thesis Prize of Auckland University for 2002. Currently, she is the Head of Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and serves as a Vice Rector Scientific Affairs at Medical University, Varna. She has published more than 150 scientific papers and 14 ophthalmology books. She has Hi index of 30 and more than 2000 citations over the last 15 years. Professor Grupcheva teaches at all graduate and postgraduate levels and actively supervises 8 PhD students and 12 residents in ophthalmology. She is the past president of the European Board of Ophthalmology and current President of Bulgarian Ophthalmological Society.