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The Best Eye Masks For Dry Eyes, According To An Eye Doctor

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Dry eyes can strike seemingly out of nowhere, from something as routine as staring at your computer screen for too long or taking a red-eye flight. Even something as simple as the weather or air conditioning can lead to dry eyes that burn and sting, which, in addition to being uncomfortable, is just plain annoying. While eye drops are definitely a must-have, you can also help your eyes recuperate with one of the best eye masks for dry eyes. To find out more, Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Jen Wademan, an optometrist at Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, CA.

What Are The Best Eye Masks For Dry Eyes?

“Dry eye symptoms are more prevalent now more than ever with [increased] screen time, changing temperatures, and differing climates,” says Dr. Wademan. “An eye mask can have a number of benefits depending on if it’s used as a warm compress or cold compress. A dry eye mask used as a warm compress can reap benefits with symptoms of Dry Eye (when used consistently). The heat can help the tiny oil glands in and around the eyelid and eyelash area — these glands help combine to make a healthy natural tear that, [with] each blink, helps lubricate the front surface of the eye. When used as [a] cold compress, it can help with redness, swelling and even eye allergy-like symptoms,” she explains. (It goes without saying that you should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor if you're experience chronic eye dryness, or if you're experiencing styes or blepharitis, which is just a fancy term for eyelid inflammation.)

Some of the situations that make eyes feel tired (think low humidity or a long flight) can leave the skin around your eyes dry, too. If that's the case, you can benefit from using an eye contour patch (which are often referred to as eye masks). They usually have a cooling effect that feels refreshing, and they feel even better when stored in your fridge or freezer.

When using any sort of product on or near your eyes, it’s important to implement proper hygiene practices. As Dr. Wademan says, “Anything that comes in close contact with the eyes — since irritation and infection can occur — needs to be clean, whether that be a warm compress, wash cloth, [or] hands! When using eye creams or gels, make sure product is not expired. Look for expiration dates and toss if expired. If products have a funny consistency or smell, throw away,” she advises.

While having compresses and masks on hand is great for treating the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes, you can also make certain lifestyle changes to prevent eye dryness in the first place. As Dr. Wademan notes, “Prevention is key and often signs can show up before symptoms, so it’s best to maintain yearly comprehensive eye exams, that way your eye care provider can assess the front part of the eye and recommend options to maintain healthy moisturized eyes.”

How Can You Prevent Dry Eyes In The First Place?

With that in mind, here are a few “eye-healthy habits” you can practice now to prevent symptoms of dry eyes, according to Dr. Wademan:

  • “Stay hydrated! Drink recommended daily intake of water.”
  • “Take breaks if on a screen for a prolonged period of time. The 20/20/20 rule is a great, easy-to-remember, tip.”
  • “Preservative-free artificial tears to use as needed, especially if the temperature is changing or varies in the environment you are in.”
  • “Remove eye makeup every night! This is a big deal when it comes to symptoms of dry eye!”
  • “If wearing lash extensions, clean, clean, clean! There are a handful of really great products that help keep those lashes clean and eyes bright!”
  • “Treat any underlying skin conditions — conditions like rosacea can have a big effect on dry eyes. Oftentimes, skin or overall health conditions can correlate to dry eyes so treating any underlying conditions can subsequently have a positive impact on dry eyes.”

Whether you're looking for a sleeping mask, a heated compress, or some refreshing under-eye patches, you'll find all of those and more in this guide to the best eye masks for dry, puffy eyes — including a few picks from Dr. Wademan.

01
Doctor’s Pick: Best Heated Compress For Dry Eyes

Dr. Wademan recommends this eye mask from Avenova. It’s a washable, heated compress that you heat up in the microwave to provide immediate relief from dry eye, blepharitis, allergies, and other forms of eye irritation. For best results, hand wash this frequently and leave it on for up to 20 minutes at a time.

Relevant Amazon review: “I have chronic dry from Graft vs Host Disease. This product is a God send when my eyes are ailing me. The last time I used it during the day I fell into a deep sleep and even hit REM & was dreaming. I love this product.”

02
Doctor’s Pick: Best Self-Heating Mask For Dry Eyes

Another recommendation of Dr. Wademan’s is Eye Eco’s Tranquileyes XL mask. By creating a warm, moist environment (without the help of a microwave), this self-heating mask helps your eyes produce tears and also keeps the surrounding skin hydrated, so it’s particularly good for long flights or wearing to bed if you sleep with the heat or air conditioning on. The latex-free mask also comes with a bunch of extras, like foam inserts to provide cushioning and round gel packs that can be frozen to offer cold relief. Naturally, this is ideal if you have a severe case of Dry Eye or an inflammatory condition like blepharitis.

Relevant Amazon review: “I struggle with dry eyes. These are amazing! They are very comfortable and stay in place all night. When I wake up my eyes are both in a completely hydrated environment. I saw an improvement after just one night. I can comfortably open my eyes while wearing them. Just a quick clean every morning (as recommended; see instructions included) and they are ready to go.”

03
The Best Silk Sleeping Mask For Dry Eyes

To help prevent your eyes from getting dry in the first place, try wearing a silk sleep mask when you go to bed. Not only does a sleeping mask block out light that can disturb your sleep, but it also shields your eyes from any fans or air conditioning units you have running. Plus, the silk material is gentle on the skin around your eyes, unlike the majority of other non-silk sleeping masks. Just make sure to wash it frequently, since, as Dr. Wademan noted, you run the risk of irritation and infection by putting products that aren’t clean on or near your eyes. This eye mask can either be hand-washed, or tossed in the machine on the gentle cycle using a mild detergent.

Relevant Amazon review: “When the ceiling fan is on while I sleep, my eyes become uncomfortably dry. When I wear this comfortable sleep mask, my eyes do not dry out. This has been very helpful!”

04
The Best Weighted Eye Mask For Dry Eyes

This eye mask is great for a few reasons. One, it’s weighted with clay beads, so similar to a weighted blanket, it can create a comfortable, relaxing feeling that makes it easier for you to fall asleep. But the really great part is that this mask has a removable, machine-washable cotton cover, which makes keeping it clean so easy. You can use it for both hot and cold therapy; just pop it in the freezer to keep it cold, or in the microwave to warm it up. It even comes with a carrying pouch to keep it protected from germs when you travel.

Relevant Amazon review: “My optometrist recommended one of these moist heat eye masks for my dry eyes – they work really well. This mask is easy to use & fits my face well. I heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds & then strap on over my eyes. My eyes start watering & clearing within a few minutes. This has made a huge improvement in my dry eyes & no medicine necessary. This mask is particularly good because it has a removable/washable cover – most do not. I machine washed mine, before using it, in a lingerie bag, & tossed in the drier – came out fine.”

05
The Best Gel Mask For Dry Eyes

For an eye mask that can be used both hot and cold, get this TheraPearl color-changing eye mask. This BPA-free, latex-free mask contains gel beads that absorb and retain their temperature to bring you relief. You simply need to pop this in the microwave for 12 to 18 seconds, then let it sit over your eyes for the doctor-recommended amount of 20 minutes to soothe your eyes and restore moisture. It also doubles as a cold compress if you store it in the freezer, which can also help reduce puffiness and swelling. Or, you can slide it up across your forehead to help with headaches or migraines. Another cool feature? The pearls change color to let you know if it’s hot (white) or cold (purple).

Relevant Amazon review: “This is something you definitely need. My doctor had me using wet [cloths] on my eyes to help with the dryness I have been experiencing. I was so tired of the drippy mess and how quickly the clothes got cool. I tried other eye masks, but this has been by far the best in offering a moist, warm heat. I found it needed a few seconds longer in the microwave, but with the newer model (I have two now) the beads change color so that you can see if the mask is ready. The heat has helped my eyes so much, and I love that it is so easy to use.”

06
The Best Self-Steaming Masks For Dry Eyes

For a self-heating option, many Amazon reviewers refer to these single-use MegRhythm steam eye masks as the equivalent of a spa experience right at home. Available in a pack of five, they’re a Japanese beauty favorite for reviving dry, tried eyes in mere minutes. The patches work to produce steam once you apply them over your eyes using thermo pads that reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Since these masks heat up on their own, without the help of a microwave, they're an excellent option for treating dry eyes on flights and during other forms of travel. Just be sure you've completely cleansed your face of any eye makeup before you pop these on or the steam will smudge it (which might cause more irritation).

Relevant Amazon review: “I absolutely love this product! I first tried it on a red-eye flight and it worked like a miracle for my dry eyes. [...] It’s now a must have for any long distance travel. Since I moved to Europe it was not easy to get those cheap from Japan. I’m very happy that Amazon had the exact same ones with the original Japanese brand, I made a monthly subscription so I always have a few around when I need some serious off-screen time.”

07
The Best Under-Eye Patches For Dry Eyes
  • Also available at Ulta, $33

If your under-eye area is what’s dry, try these eye gel patches from Skyn Iceland. After leaving them on for 10 minutes, the transdermal eye patches will infuse the skin around your eyes with hydrating, soothing, and plumping ingredients like jojoba oil, olive fruit oil, and hydrolyzed extensin. Additionally, gingko biloba leaf extract brightens and de-puffs; coenzyme Q10 offers antioxidant protection; and the brand's own Icelandic complex, which comprises a blend of detoxifying and hydrating ingredients, like glacial water and arctic cloudberry, moisturizes even further. Store these in the fridge, and they'll feel even more amazing when placed beneath your dry, tired eyes.

Relevant Amazon review: “I purchased these as an indulgence for an upcoming flight for a vacation. Airplanes leave my skin dry and lackluster [...] I used the pads as directed for 10 minutes at home. I noticed an improvement in texture and color of the skin beneath my eyes. [...] They were comfortable to have on and refreshingly cool and moisturizing.”

08
The Best Topical Mask For Dry Eyes

There are a lot of great topical eye creams and masks out there, but this one from Versed stands out because it’s a refreshing gel that helps simultaneously soothe, hydrate, and de-puff the skin under and around your eyes — and it costs just $20. Made with cooling and quenching cucumber juice, nourishing nutrients like vitamin B5 and E, and caffeine, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling, this is a great does-it-all eye treatment for either daily or occasional use.

Relevant Amazon review: “This product is the only thing that actually works to reduce the puffiness in my eyes in the morning. So much better than any of the patches or creams out there. Highly recommend.”

09
The Best Splurge-Worthy Mask For Dry Eyes

For your next at-home spa day, pamper your eyes with this Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Hydrating Mask, which comes from one of the beauty industry’s most in demand facialists. It’s definitely a splurge, but it works double-duty to hydrate and firm the delicate skin all around your eyes (most masks just target the under-eye vicinity). To fight dry skin, the bamboo sheet mask contains hyaluronic acid to impart moisture, and licorice extract to soothe. It's also formulated with arbutin to even out pigmentation, five different peptides to boost elasticity, and Matrixyl 3000 to stimulate collagen production. Though the mask was designed to be used for just 15 to 20 minutes, once it's removed, you can pat the remaining serum into your skin.

Relevant Amazon review: “I love to use this mask in the morning, especially after long nights. I can immediately see the area around my eyes brighten and it helps me look refreshed and awake, even though I don't feel it. It reduces puffiness and hydrates my under eye area which allows my concealer to set very naturally. There's also a generous amount of serum in each package which I love to use all over my face and neck. I definitely recommend for a quick and lasting pick-me-up!”

10
Also Consider: A Gentle Cleanser Made Specifically For Eyelids

As Dr. Wademan notes, it’s really important to keep your eyes clean if you’re prone to eye dryness. She likes the brand We Loves Eyes, which makes this great, eye-safe cleanser that uses tea tree and other naturally derived ingredients to keep eyes clean and nourished. By keeping your eyes clean, you should be able to keep irritation, inflammation, and infections at bay, which will in turn help your eyes feel less dry and more comfortable.

Relevant Amazon review: “Amazing product. So happy with how it is helping relieve my dry eye symptoms. My eyes were so dry and irritated that I couldn’t even wear eye makeup. Now I can. The results were instant too. I never write product reviews, so this proves how happy I am with the product.”

Expert:

Dr. Jen Wademan, O.D., optometrist at Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, CA

Expert:

Dr. Jen Wademan, O.D., optometrist at Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, CA

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