Theresa Lynch knew something was wrong with her eyes, their swollen lids hanging heavy enough to cause her discomfort. When Lynch told her doctor about the problem, she couldn’t have guessed that her mascara was to blame for her unbelievable diagnosis.
Lynch was from Maryland originally but ended up living halfway around the world in Sydney, Australia. By the time she was 50 years old, Lynch had two children and worked as a housekeeper.
At the same time, Lynch had another hobby – makeup. Her daily routine didn’t incorporate much skincare, though. “I had fallen into a bad habit of wearing a lot of makeup and not washing it off,” she told the Daily Mail.
After 25 years without a daily cleansing regimen, Lynch began to experience a litany of problems with her eyes. Aside from irritation, she noted a lingering uncomfortable feeling behind her eyelids – one that traditional eyedrops wouldn’t soothe.
With that, Lynch decided to see her doctor, Dana Robaei, for a bit of insight into why her eyes were bothering her so much. Lynch recalled to the Daily Mail, “When Dr. Robaei pulled my eyelid back, she said, ‘Oh my god… In my whole career, I haven’t seen anything like this.’”
For starters, “She could see the whites of my eyes were glassy and bloodshot,” Lynch said. But it was what had grown on the inside of the mother-of-two’s eyelids that had truly stunned Dr. Robaei.
Lynch had several calcified bumps, also called concretions, hiding underneath her eyelid. In most cases, patients have no idea they have concretions – they lie tucked away and painless, but when they rub the eye’s surface, they cause irritation.
But Lynch’s case was much more serious. Not only could she feel her concretions, but her doctor found that the bumps could seriously affect her vision if left untouched. Dr. Robaei would have to remove them.
“[The lumps] were embedded so deep that particles were building up on top of each other,” Lynch said. She added, “I was so uncomfortable. My eyelids were swollen and heavy because I left it for so long.”
And her doctor discovered the source of Lynch’s itchy, heavy concretions – small bits of mascara left uncleansed had gotten stuck beneath her eyelids. The build-up had taken place over a quarter of a century.
In fact, the case was so extreme that Dr. Robaei wrote a study about Lynch’s eyelid concretions. “Every time Theresa was blinking, these bumps were rubbing on the surface of the eye and they pose a risk to vision,” she wrote.
Dr. Robaei went on to explain, “It was certainly disabling. She has suffered permanent scarring on her eyelid and the surface of her cornea. If the scratch on the surface of the eye got infected, there is a risk this could be potentially blinding. ”
Fortunately, Lynch had visited her doctor before she lost her vision permanently. But she did learn a valuable lesson from the scare. As previously noted, she had never washed off her makeup, which had contributed to the concretions.
“It’s so important to properly take your makeup off every single night. You can’t miss a single day,” Lynch warned others. Her doctor echoed her sentiment, saying that “you must be meticulous” when removing mascara.
Although Dr. Robaei admitted that “this was an amazing case,” she said it served as a serious warning to those who brush off their nightly makeup removal routine. “This is a risk not many people are aware of,” she said.
To avoid this type of outcome, makeup wearers should adhere to a nightly routine to remove any residue that could be damaging. Experts suggest using a makeup remover, such as micellar cleansing water, as the first step.
Although these products remove the first layer, a second step is required to wash all the residue away. Lathering up a traditional cleanser and using a warm washcloth to wipe it off should do the trick.
On top of that, eye doctors suggest taking care with make-up application, too, so as to avoid the inner eye area. For instance, penciling eyeliner onto the inner eyelid is frowned upon, as it allows particles to contaminate the eye more easily.
Another pro tip: adhere to a makeup container’s expiration date. One study revealed that 97.9 percent of makeup users held onto their tubes longer than recommended. However, this extra time allows bacteria and fungi to grow, transfer to the eye and cause infections.
Avoiding accessories for the eye may also be advisable. False eyelashes can cause eyelid swelling and loss of follicles along the lash line. Cosmetic contact lenses that change the shape and color of the eye can also cause damage to the eye – or even permanent blindness.