Ice or cold packs applied to the eye lids cools meibum. When the meibum becomes cold it hardens. When meibum hardens it does not flow and is not secreted during blinking, leading to evaporative dry eye.
Although cold or cool packs can sometimes be applied to the eyes to relieve burning, to relieve allergy symptoms, or after surgery to distract from pain and discomfort, cold packs or ice packs should usually be used only as a last resort.
Sometimes ice packs are applied to the eye brow or cheek to distract from discomfort in the eye. Applying ice packs to these areas does not affect the meibum.
Meibomian lipid films and the impact of temperature
Butovich IA, Arciniega JC, Wojtowicz JC
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
2010 Nov;51(11):5508-18. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-5419. Epub 2010 Jul 7.
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