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Graphic eye condition highlights danger of mascara

06/06/2018By Matthew Woodley
A Sydney woman has made headlines around the world after her habit of not properly removing mascara resulted in calcified lumps below her eyelid that could have left her blind.

The woman, Ms Theresa Lynch, visited Forest Eye Surgery ophthalmologist Dr Dana Robaei late last year complaining of heavy eyelids and eye irritation, that drops and lubricating gels had not been able to ease. According to Caters News Agency, Robaei said the calcified bumps under her eyelids, caused by 25 years of heavy make up use, were unlike anything she had ever seen before.

“This was an amazing case. I’d never seen anything like it. But this is a risk not many people are aware of.”
Dr Dana Robaei

“Every time Theresa was blinking, these bumps were rubbing on the surface of the eye and they pose a risk to her vision. If the scratch on the surface of the eye got infected, there is a risk this could be potentially blinding, but that would be rare,” Robaei said.

“It was certainly disabling. She has suffered permanent scarring on her eyelid and the surface of her cornea.”

Robaei had a report on the case published recently in Ophthalmology and said it highlighted the importance of proper mascara removal.

“The symptoms are like somebody throwing a handful of sand in your eye – it’s constantly irritating. Not many women are treating the removal of their mascara seriously. You must be meticulous,” she said.

“This was an amazing case. I’d never seen anything like it. But this is a risk not many people are aware of.”

It took a 90-minute procedure under general anaesthetic for Robaei to remove the subconjunctival concretions, but according to Lynch it hasn’t affected her vision.

Lynch's case is the second recent instance of a beauty product being linked to adverse side effects associated with the eye, with CBS News reporting a lawsuit had been filed against Rodan + Fields, maker of the eyelash serum Lash Boost. The suit alleges that the cosmetic company failed to disclose the side effects of its key ingredient isopropyl cloprostenate, a type of prostaglandin analogue used to treat glaucoma, amongst other conditions.

“Consumers of Lash Boost ... have experienced serious side effects, including change(s) in iris color, eyelid drooping, itchy eyes, eye/lid discolouration, thinning and loss of eyelashes/loss of eyelash hair, eye sensitivity, eye infections, and vision impairment,” CBS News reported the lawsuit claimed.

Keller Rohrback LLP, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, will be seeking compensation for consumers who purchased the product. Rodan + Fields has denied any wrongdoing and released a statement that said it would let the specifics of its legal defence play out in court.

More reading:

Mascara embedded in woman’s eyelid

Subconjunctival Mascara Deposition

Side effects from eyelash enhancer lead to lawsuit

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