Last updated January 1, 2013
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Do a search on our Bulletin Board for more information about eyes, including what people use in their eyes at night and people who have had surgery to correct their ectropion.

 

Scales Around Eyes and Eyelids

 

In order to minimize scales on my eyelids and around my eyes, I do 2 things that youíre not supposed to do (at least, not by any product directions or doctorís advice). First, I use a natural pumice stone to scrub on my face, and I go right up to the edge of my eyes and close my eyes and go over the eyelid itself with the pumice. I do this everyday (at least once a day) in the shower. Then, when Iím creaming, I put my cream right up to the edge of my eye, and again close my eye and cover the eyelid itself.

 

I do this even with creams with alpha hydroxy acids in them. Of course, if cream actually gets in your eye, itís not good (and you know it right away, because it really burns and stings) and you need to flush it out with water. But I rarely get cream in my eyes, and I cream right up to the edges.

 

Being able to cream, and scrub with a pumice, right up to the edges really helps control the scaling.  Minimizing the scaling around my eyes has a big impact on my comfort and my appearanceómy eyes are less dry, so I'm more comfortable and they're also less red (less of an ectropion effect), so it's not as noticeable that something is wrong with them.  This was something that I was first able to do for myself as I got older (around 13 or 14).  This would be very difficult to do for someone else (like babies) and very difficult for young children to do for themselves.

 

Eye Hints

 

Many people who have ichthyosis also have trouble with dry eyes, because the skin around their eyes is so tight.  At its worst, this tightness causes a condition called "ectropion," where the eyelids turn outward because the skin pulls so tightly around their eyes. Whatever the extent of your eye dryness, your eyes may need some special care if you have ichthyosis.

 

Sleeping cat

Sleeping

One of the things having ectropion means is that your eyelids probably don't close all the way when you sleep. So you wake up with lots of "gunk" around your eyes, theyíre extra dry, and your poor eyes just donít feel very good. No wonder---theyíve gotten all dried out during the night!

 

What can make a world of difference is using an ointment in your eyes at night. Kind of like sterile eye drops that most people are familiar with (used with contact lenses or to moisturize during the day), a moisturizing ointment doesnít have any "active ingredient" to do anything to your eyes. Itís just plain, sterile ointment. But itís not liquid, itís a thick gel. Because itís very thick, you wonít be able to see very well after you put it in, so you should do this right before you go to bed (and then rinse out whatís left as soon as you get up in the morning). To apply, you just put a line of ointment directly along the bottom edge of your eyelid (there are great instructions in the packaging how to do this).

This is one of my "must have" products to care for my skin; I feel a huge (negative) difference in my eyes if I go without using an ointment for even just one night.  I also was having trouble with changes in my cornea (from drying) before I started using an ointment at night; now, all signs have corneal drying have disappeared.

 

Several companies make ointments; check out the Product Mall listings for more information.

 

During the Day

If Iíve run out of ointment to use at night, my eyes are not happy the next day. Or sometimes, theyíre just extra dry and irritated. Instead of using regular sterile eye drops, I use products that are kind of half-way in between eye drops and night-time ointment. Celu-visc and Refresh Plus. Celu-visc is thicker than Refresh Plus. You wonít be able to see very well for about 5 to 10 minutes after you put the drops in, but then your vision clears. And your eyes are more moisturized than if you had just used eye drops (that are like water in their consistency). The other thing that is kind of cool about these products is the way they are packaged. They come in a box, with individual-size, disposable applicators inside (see the picture in the Product Mall <insert link>). This makes them great for travelóto stick in a purse, a locker, wherever. You need to keep the applicator clean, of course, but itís not hard to wrap in a tissue or put in a little baggie.

 

In the shower

I've also found that it's well worth the extra time and expense to use a specifically-designed eyelid cleanser almost every day in the shower.  The one that I've found most effective for me is SteriLid.  Just follow their directions.  It really helps clear the skin around my eyelids and further reduces the ectropion effect.  I rarely take the time to do this at night, but the most effective care for my eyes is to wash with Sterilid just before bed, right before putting my thick, nighttime ointment in.  That seems to keep my eyes the most lubricated during the night.  This is one of those time/skin care trade offs--notwithstanding the fact that my eyes look and feel even better if I'd do this at night, I rarely take the extra time at night.  It's much easier for me to work it in during my morning shower, even though that's a little less effective for me.