Can Warm Compresses Help Dry Eyes?

Published December 13, 2020

If you are suffering from mild to moderate dry eye symptoms, warm compresses are a natural way to treat dry eyes and relieve uncomfortable symptoms. 

Dry eyes can range from a mild inconvenience to a chronic problem, and cause many uncomfortable symptoms that can impact your performance of daily activities.

Symptoms of dry eyes

  • Dry, irritated, or red eyes
  • Inflamed eyelids
  • Burning feeling in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Excessive tearing/watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitive or sore eyes
  • Eyelid discomfort
  • Foreign body sensation in the eyes

How do warm compresses help dry eyes?

Warm compresses provide a hydrating and soothing relief to dry eyes. 

The heat from the warm compress helps to open the meibomian glands to improve oil gland function, increase oil flow into the eyes, stabilize the tear film, and slow down tear evaporation.

After removing the warm compress, your eyes will be able to expel debris and bacteria more efficiently, helping your eyes remain healthy and clear.

Warm compresses may be recommended for daily or nightly use to help soothe dry eye symptoms— and may be used in combination with artificial tears eye drops, gel, or ointment for optimal results.

How to make a warm compress for your eyes

Warm compresses can be both moist and dry, but for dry eyes, most eye doctors recommend using a moist compress to both clean and hydrate your eyes at the same time. Your eye doctor can instruct you how to make your own moist warm compress at home.

Making a warm compress to relieve dry eyes is quick and easy.

Here are two simple ways to make your own moist warm compress:

Water basin method

  1. Fill a water basin with water that is hot to the touch, but not scalding.
  2. Soak a small towel or washcloth in the hot water.
  3. Squeeze out the excess water.
  4. Fold the towel until it is small enough to fit over your eyes.
  5. Place the towel on your eyes.
  6. The towel should stay warm for about 5-10 minutes.

Microwave method

  1. Wet two towels with water.
  2. Squeeze out the excess water.
  3. Place one towel in a zip-lock bag and leave the bag open.
  4. Set the bag in the microwave on high for two minutes.
  5. Carefully remove the bag from the microwave- the bag will be hot.
  6. Seal the bag tightly.
  7. Wrap the second wet towel around the bag.
  8. Place the warm compress on your eyes.
  9. The compress should stay warm for about 5-10 minutes.

If you would rather purchase a ready-made warm compress, you can inquire in your eye doctor’s office, or visit your local pharmacy.

If warm compresses are not effective enough to relieve your symptoms, or don’t provide the long lasting relief you are looking for, there are many other treatments that your eye doctor can discuss with you.

Don’t let dry eyes get in your way, with an effective dry eye treatment plan, your eyes will feel healthy and comfortable in no time.