A quarter of women risking their eye health for vanity

There are items in every woman’s make-up bag that never see the light of day. They stay there year after year in case they are ever needed, but a new health warning calls for those items to be binned or risk damaging your eyes.

While millions of pounds are spent on beauty products every year, it seems that hygiene is not a priority for British women: 1 in 4 is putting their eye health at risk by using bacteria-infected eye make-up that is over four years old!

Mascara in particular is a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause itchy, swelling and watery eyes. But despite recommendations that eye make-up should be thrown away after six months, 92% of women admit to keeping their mascara for longer than that, and nearly two-thirds of women use eye make-up that is over two years old.

A quarter of the women surveyed by The College of Optometrists also confessed to sharing eye make-up with friends, family and colleagues, despite 1 in 10 admitting to frequently suffering from bacterial eye infections such as conjunctivitis.

Dr. Susan Blakeney, Optometric Adviser, says, “It’s not surprising that our survey shows that nearly half of women suffer from itchy, watery and red eyes when women are holding onto their eye make-up for so long and sharing it among their friends. Mascara can be a hotbed for bacteria, and most women are either unaware of or simply ignoring manufacturers’ recommended use-by-dates. Ultimately, for the sake of vanity and economy, millions of women are risking the health of their eyes.”

For more information visit: www.college-optometrists.org/.

Top Tips for Safe Make-Up Use:
The College of Optometrists recommends the following simple rules for safe make-up use and maintaining eye health:

1. Don’t apply make-up on the move. Scratching the eye with a mascara wand is the most common injury from make-up and can lead to eye infections if left untreated. To reduce the risk of scratches, never attempt applying mascara while travelling in a car, train, bus or aeroplane.
2. Don’t share your eye make-up. Sharing make-up can be risky as you may be sharing bacteria too. It’s particularly inadvisable to share mascara and eyeliner.
3. Play it safe — ditch mascara after six months of use. Cosmetic brushes pick up bacteria from the skin. The risk of infection is increased if you moisten the brushes with saliva.
4. Avoid using eyeliner on the inside or ‘wet’ area of your eyelids. It can block the glands there and lead to styes and dry eyes.
5. Put your contact lenses in before you put your make-up on. Contact lens wearers know how important it is to keep their contact lenses clean to avoid infection but then risk compromising this with old make-up. If you are a contact lens wearer put your lenses in before you put your make-up on — not only will this will make it easier for you to see what you are doing but it will also mean you are less likely to get make-up underneath your lenses.
6. Visit an optometrist regularly. Optometrists are professionally trained to not only test sight and prescribe glasses and contact lenses; they can also spot eye problems and treat infections.