The ugly truth about eyelash bling

UC Irvine Health ophthalmologist cautions teens against lash extenders, accessories

May 31, 2013
Eyelash bling

With high school prom and graduation season in full swing, UC Irvine Health suggests that teens give their eyes a break and skip the bling.

Fake eyelashes have been around for decades, and lash extenders and such accessories as beads, crystals and sequins are all the rage among certain celebrities. Each can cause problems, as can the adhesives necessary to affix them to the eyelid or lashes.

“Teens that use these products risk developing severe allergic reactions,” says Dr. Marjan Farid, director of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at the UC Irvine Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

“They’re also susceptible to eyelid infections that can cause meibomian gland disease, which may lead to chronic dry eyes, and blepharitis, or chronic inflammation of the eyelid.”

Formaldehyde-based adhesives and other glues required to attach extensions – as well as the solvents that remove them – can cause allergic reactions, she notes, and any use of artificial enhancers carries a risk of bacterial or fungal infection.

Farid also points out that frequently handling, tugging at and weighing down natural lashes can result in the loss of normal eyelash volume.

Many consumers simply assume that eyelash bling is safe, she says, but “the FDA does not test or certify these products. The fact that they’re easily available online and in stores is no guarantee that they won’t cause eye problems or lead to more serious conditions.”

Farid advises anyone who experiences eyelid swelling, red eyes, pain or decreased vision while using eyelash accessories to immediately visit an ophthalmologist before permanent damage occurs.

UC Irvine Health comprises the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UC Irvine Health at physician offices throughout Orange County and at its main campus, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif., a 412-bed acute care hospital that provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation. U.S. News & World Report has listed it among America’s Best Hospitals for 12 consecutive years. UC Irvine Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program, Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, and is the primary teaching hospital for UC Irvine Health School of Medicine. UC Irvine Health serves a region of more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu.

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