Warm Compresses For Dry Eye

If you are experiencing dry eye, eye doctors recommend using warm compresses morning and night. 

Warm Compresses For Dry Eye in Chattanooga

Amplify Eyecare Chattanooga

Warm Compresses For Dry Eye

Hot or warm compresses are a simple, effective, and easy to use home care method for alleviating symptoms of dry eye, particularly for those with MGD-caused dry eye. As with any at-home treatment, however, it is advised to consult with a doctor before use.

When to use Hot Compresses

Compresses are useful for helping alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Studies have found that between 45-86% of people who suffer from dry eye have meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), and hot compresses are particularly useful for unclogging these glands.

However, it is still advised to consult with an eye doctor before attempting at-home treatment, to understand the nature of your dry eye and to ensure that you are doing the best thing you can for your condition. Generally speaking an optometrist will recommend warm compresses in addition to in office treatments that provide more regulated heating and manual expression of your meibomian glands. When you combine in office and at home use of warm compresses the results can be life changing for many dry eye sufferers. 


Dry eye syndrome can cause a range of symptoms, including:


  • Dry, itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye fatigue or soreness
  • Light sensitivity
When to use Hot Compresses
How Can Warm Compresses Help Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms?

How Can Warm Compresses Help Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms?

Warm compresses are soothing for the eyes, and can quickly provide relief. The moisture hydrates the eyes, reducing grittiness, and the warmth from the compress relaxes the eye, relieving pain and muscle spasms which can be caused by dry eye. Additionally, the compresses can loosen clogged oil in your tear glands, which results in better quality tears, which in turn will reduce dry eye symptoms.

How Can Warm Compresses Help Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms?

Not a Substitute for In-Office Care

While they can be effective as an at-home treatment, warm compresses aren’t a complete substitute for in-office treatments, which can be much more powerful and reduce symptoms for much longer periods of time.

Why are warm compresses not a good substitute for in office treatment? 

At home warm compresses are not a replacement for in office heating and expression of the meibomian glands. Warm compresses are a great additional tool in between treatments in the office. There are three main reasons why at home warm compresses are not as effective.  

  1. Compliance: Patients don’t always follow the protocols set by their eye doctor with regards to warm compresses. Ideally a patient should be using their compress twice a day. 
  2. Temperature: Warm compresses do not retain their heat like in office treatments. The lower heat means the clogged meibomian glands are not unclogged as successfully. 
  3. Manual Expression: During an in office treatment the meibomian glands are heated at a consistent temperature, following which the optometrist will manually express out the clogged glands. During an at-home treatment such as warm compresses the patient’s glands are not expressed, although some meibum may express on its own. 


In office heating & expression of meibomian glands


Some of these in-office treatment options include Systane iLux, Tearcare, Lipiflow, ocusoft one touch and Mibo Thermoflo, each of which utilises specially designed devices to precisely apply heat directly to the affected areas. These treatments are typically quick, and provide long-lasting relief.


At our office Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga we provide treatments using the Ocusoft One Touch. This is a non-invasive, pain free treatment that is administered by a technician and optometrist. The patient wears the One Touch for 10-20 minutes, following which the optometrist will manually express the meibomian glands, freeing them up from clogged oil. Treatment will take place over 2-4 sessions as determined by the optometrist, following which the patient will be sent home with a warm compress, eyelid wipes, omega 3 vitamins, and eye drops that are lipid based.

Recommendations for at-Home Use of Compresses

While warm compresses can be effective for treating your dry eye at home, there is more to it than simply soaking a washcloth in warm water. Using a compress like that for a few minutes is generally not so effective since it cannot sustain the warm enough temperature for long, while another common household item, rice bags, emit a dry heat when warmed that is less helpful for clogged meibomian glands. People who try these types of compresses are often disappointed with the results, and from that deem the entire concept ineffective.


Compress packs specifically designed for at-home use for dry eye, such as the Bruder warm compress, tends to be more effective while still being simple to prepare and apply. However as noted above, even specially designed warm compresses do not sustain the optimal heat like in office treatments. 

When to use Hot Compresses
How Can Warm Compresses Help Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms?

Use Compresses Correctly

Whatever sort of compress you use, it is important to learn how to properly prepare and apply them in order to see the maximum benefits.If you are using a store-bought compress pack, be sure to follow the directions on the packaging. If you were given a compress from our optometrist, follow the instructions provided to you by our eye doctor.

Dr. McBryar cartoon


Warm compresses have been found to be an effective at-home treatment for dry eye, if done correctly. The ideal use of warm compresses is when they are used in addition to in office treatment. Warm compresses alone are not as effective, especially long-term, as in-office treatment. If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, contact us at Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga to schedule an appointment.


Related Articles

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga Logo

Working Hours

Monday - Tuesday
7:30AM - 5:15PM

Wednesday - Thursday
8:00AM - 5:15PM

Friday - Sunday

1043 Executive Drive Suite #101 Hixson, TN 37343
(423) 710 3966
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
phone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-up linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram