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What are the Health Risks of Eyelash Extensions?

Have you ever worn false eyelashes? Full, luscious lashes might be all the fashion rage right now, but they may pose a threat to your eye health. Eyelash extensions are individual synthetic lashes that an aesthetician attaches to your natural lashes with adhesive. As a result, your lashes appear thicker and longer.

As extensions have grown in popularity, eyecare professionals have seen a rise in patients seeking treatment for their possible complications. Problems range from allergies to infections to the loss of the patients natural lashes.

Eyelash Extension Health Risks

1. Some women are allergic to the glue that is used to apply the lashes. The glue often contains formaldehyde, a fairly common allergen. Others are allergic to the solvent used to remove them. These allergies can cause swelling of the eyelids and discomfort.

2. Sometimes there is no allergy, just a mechanical irritation from the fake lashes brushing against the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye that covers the iris and pupil.

3. Or the problem may go beyond this and actually be a bacterial or fungal infection.

4. Infectious eye diseases can occur when the technician applying the lashes does not have clean hands, does not use sterile instruments, or reapplies used lashes to different clients. One possibility is the infection of the inside of the eyelid called conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. Pinkeye is not dangerous, but it is very uncomfortable and sometimes contagious.

5. The most serious problem that can come as a result of eyelash extensions is an infection of the cornea, or keratitis. If left untreated, keratitis can cause vision loss.

The Thick and Thin of Lashes

If you feel you must use eyelash extensions, have them done at a reputable salon with certified aestheticians, and find out what’s in the adhesive they use. But bear in mind, there is yet another ill effect that the extensions can cause. “Traction alopecia” is a technical term for your lashes getting yanked out, either from the extensions tugging at them or when the extensions are removed. This loss of lashes is usually temporary, but can become permanent if it happens repeatedly. Some extension users get into a cycle in which the more they use extensions, the more they need them.

Writing for Consumer Reports, Orly Avitzur, MD, has recommended avoiding the drama and sticking with mascara. If you are having any problems with your eyes, schedule an appointment with one of our optometrists at My Eyelab. Our eye doctors will give you a complete eye examination and determine if you have any vision problems.


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