In our culture, women constantly strive to be perceived as more beautiful or youthful. Many cosmetic products or procedures that we use to attain “beauty” can negatively affect ocular health.

From surgical procedures to ordinary cosmetic products, there are many potential risks we might not be aware of or don’t take seriously enough.

One of the latest crazes in the beauty industry is tattooing eyeliner to the eyelid.

I’m not sure who first thought that anyone other than a medical professional should have a needle that close to the eye, but it has taken off without any long-term studies on its ocular effects.

Along the edge of the eyelids lie delicate Meibomian glands. These glands produce oil that forms the outer layer of the eye’s natural tear film. The oil stops the aqueous layer of the tears from evaporating off the eye immediately.

A study on patients who have had their eyelids tattooed is showing induced Meibomian gland loss and consequent ocular surface disease (dry eye) from a lack of good quality tear film.

Botox and cosmetic surgeries (facelifts, etc.) have the potential to damage eyelid integrity. The cornea is a clear structure which lies in front of the iris (the colored part of the eye).

In order for the cornea to remain clear, and thus provide clear vision, it has to be well lubricated. The purpose of a blink is to spread the tear film and lubricate the cornea.

When cosmetic surgery damages the interface between the eyelid and the cornea, or the ability of the upper and lower eyelids to meet and completely close during a blink, the cornea does not get complete lubrication. This can cause the eyes to be painful, red and blurry.

Lastly, be careful with ordinary makeup products. Bacteria can grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup and cause eye infections.

Be sure to apply eyeliner on the outside of your eyelashes. Applying eyeliner inside the lash line clogs those Meibomian glands, which can get infected and result in a stye or hordeolum. Remove all eye make-up at night, and rinse any eye makeup remover residue off of your eyelids.

Sure, we all want to wake up in the morning looking like runway models, but is it worth jeopardizing the health of your sight-providing organs?

Besides, beauty really does shine brighter from the inside out.

Caroline Bundrick, O.D. is an optometrist practicing at Darling Eye Center, with offices in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island.