Life Cycle of an (ingrown) Eyelash
Some of the most grateful people I’ve seen are the ones who come in with an irritated, watery eye that’s been really bothering them for a few days, and almost magically a moment later, their eye is comfortable again, thanks to the removal of an inturned eyelash.
It can be quite hard to see an inturned lash on your own eye, especially if your 40+ and can’t see as well up close. Inturned/ misdirected lashes may not be your full-length full-coloured easy-to-see lash, but are often short, almost clear in colour, and hiding right in one corner of the eye.
One thing that often these people didn’t realise is that that’s what’s been bugging their eyes, on and off, over a long period of time. Once they tune in to the life cycle of the eyelash, carefully timed preventative visits can stop the cycle of irritation.
If you’re unlucky enough to have an ingrown lash that irritates your eye, here’s some things that might help to explain the ups and downs of your discomfort. Eyelashes have a life cycle of grow, fall out, grow again, of about 6 weeks.
How often it irritates, and the level of discomfort depends on
- how far the lash has to grow before it starts to touch your eye. Some people’s inturned lash touches their eye almost as soon as it starts to grow, for others it only touches the eye when it’s at full length (and so just about ready to fall out).
- how many lashes are inturned. For some its just one lash, for others there may be a whole lot. If it’s just one lash, the time between episodes of irriation can become very predictable. If there’s a whole lot, and they just get removed one at a time, that person could be in for almost continuous irritation. For larger numbers of offending lashes, it’s usually best to identify which ones they are and remove them all at the same time – which will then give a longer period of comfort before the cycle repeats again…
- how the lash touches the eye. Some people’s inturned lash pokes straight into their eye, end on – and so when it’s long enough, there will be a quite defined, sharp onset of discomfort. In others, the lash runs alongside the surface of the eye, and may not be felt as a pain at all, just a mild feeling of ‘something in my eye’ with a very indefinite starting point.
- where the lash is located. The central part of the front of the eye, the clear cornea, is very sensitive, but out to the sides, on the conjunctiva there is less sensitivity. So a lash located centrally may give constant irritation. An inturned lash located near the corner, by contrast, may not give much discomfort, or perhaps only when the eyeball moves towards that side. These people may only bothered by their inturned lash when say reading, or driving, when their eyes are moving a lot.
- how the lash has become inturned. Some people’s inturned lashes are so because their lash follicle is ‘pointing’ in the wrong direction. In others, in some races more than others, sometimes because of surgery, and as a common cause in older people, it’s because the whole edge of the eyelid has ‘rolled’ around.
If your watery, scratchy eye is being caused by an ingrown eyelash, getting the lash out of the way is the only way to get relief. Eyedrops just won’t fix this uncomfortable eye.
Getting in tune with the life-cycle of your inturned eyelash is a key step towards coming up with a strategy to keep your eyes comfortable by removing the offending lashes before they have a change to scratch your eyes.