Best Way to Apply Warm Compresses to Eyelids

Which Procedure is the Best For Warm Compresses?

This is an age old question that has been around since I was a resdient.

I use warm hot towels or paper towels heated up in the microwave or my hands under running warm water. If I have time, I use a Bruder mask. I was about the buy the Wizard dry eye USB device below on Amazon but a patient just came in noting she had issues with this working at all & had to return them 3 times!! ugh!

She contacted the manufacturer who said they had an issue–likely from the China plant.

A few of my patients have spent the $699 to get BLEPHASTEAM below. They love it though it is pricey. I am thinking of buying this one for my husband who has dry eyes but I am worried he will not use it.

One of my awesome patients noted that she has been using a FACIAL Steamer like the ones here, which really help her dry eye symptoms.

As long as it does not burn your skin, all these options seem to work if it is hot enough for long enough.

It has been hard to find a study that is not sponsored in some way by the company being evaluated.

Many of the warm compresses options likely achieve the same result.

Below is an example of a paper that notes a product is better than another but the company provided the product. Does that affect the results? It is hard to say. These products likely work great and last longer than a warm/hot towel. Is it worth the price? It depends on how valuable time is to you: if you DO NOT have time to re-heat your warm towel, it may be worth it.


The materials, OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask and MGDRx EyeBag®, were supplied by Scope Ophthalmics Ltd., Dublin. The authors do not have any financial interest in any of the products mentioned in this study. The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

 2019 Oct 27. doi: 10.1080/02713683.2019.1686153. [Epub ahead of print]

The efficacy of warm compresses in the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction and Demodex folliculorum blepharitis.

Author information

School of Physics & Clinical & Optometric Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology , Kevin Street, Dublin 8 , Ireland.


Purpose: To investigate and compare the effect of warm compresses on meibomian gland dysfunction and Demodex folliculorum blepharitis. Methods: Forty-two subjects (13 males, 29 females; mean age of 56.45 years) enrolled and completed the two-month warm compress treatment study. Three warm compress therapies were compared: Warm face cloth, MGDRx EyeBag® and OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask. Subjects attended for four visits: baseline, two weeks, four weeks, and eight weeks. Subjective symptoms, osmolarity, non-invasive tear break-up time, ocular surface staining, Schirmer I test, meibum expressibility and clarity, and eyelash manipulation and epilation to assess for the presence of Demodex folliculorum, were measured at each visit. Results: Meibomian gland dysfunction, based on a composite score of meibum quality and expressibility, reduced significantly with the MGDRx EyeBag® and the OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in efficacy for treating meibomian gland dysfunction between the two devices (p = 0.29). No improvement in meibomian gland dysfunction was detected with the warm face cloth. Only the OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask significantly reduced the quantity of Demodex folliculorum over eight-weeks of treatment (p = 0.036, only baseline to week eight significant p = 0.008). Symptoms and ocular surface staining improved significantly in all three groups (p < 0.05). There was no significant change observed in osmolarity, non-invasive tear break-up time or Schirmer I test within each group (p > 0.05, respectively). Conclusion: The MGDRx EyeBag® and the OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask exhibited superior efficacy in treating signs and symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction, compared to the use of a warm face cloth, over the eight-week period. The OPTASETM Moist Heat Mask demonstrated dual therapeutic abilities, treating both meibomian gland dysfunction and Demodex folliculorum blepharitis. Repeated application of heat for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction may continue to present a good home-remedy option for patients.
What is it?
Blephasteam is a new device which is revolutionising the way we treat Blepharitis, dry eye and other disorders of the lid margin and eye surface.
It is the first eyelid warming device which delivers, in standardised conditions, a latent moist heat therapy. This innovative device provides an environment that naturally enhances tear quality.
The Blephasteam eyelid warming device incorporates a heating device, with a chamber that will heat up to 42 degrees celcius, a temperature high enough to melt meibomian oil gland secretions without harming the lid skin.
What are Meibomian glands?
Meibomian glands are oil glands that are arranged vertically within the eyelid near the lashes. The force of an eyelid blink causes oil to be excreted onto the inside surface of the lid margin. The oil is the “staying power” of the tears that helps prevent rapid tear evaporation.
What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is thought to be the leading cause of dry eye disease. In the early stages patients have no symptoms but, if left unmanaged, MGD can cause dry eye symptoms and eyelid inflammation. The oil glands become blocked with thickened secretions. Chronically clogged glands eventually become unable to secrete oil which results in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes. Symptoms can include:
Dryness, burning, itching, stickiness, watering, light sensitivity, red eyes, foreign body sensation, frequent styes and intermittent blurred vision
How is is used?
Each entire treatment session takes approximately 30 minutes.
The Blephasteam device is preheated before your appointment in order to reach the desired temperature. You wear the goggles for around 10 minutes.
After this the optometrist will usually examine your lids and if required will perform a procedure called Lid Expression where she will use a specially designed tool called a Mastrota paddle using a mild pressure on the lids to unblock each of the Meibomian glands and express the build-up of oils. Meibomian gland expression is not a painful procedure, however topical anaesthetic may be used as in some cases as backed-up glands may be uncomfortable on manipulation.
How many treatments are required?
In cases of mild MGD, a single session may be all that is required. However we have usually found that several sessions on a weekly basis may be needed in more severe cases.
How much does it cost?
A Blephasteam treatment costs only $10* in addition to the normal consultation fees. Medicare rebates apply to consultation fees
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