Treating Red, Puffy Eyes: Warm Compress vs. Cold Compress

Warm and cold compresses are home remedies commonly used to treat a variety of eye problems. But when is each appropriate? For this month’s blog post, Dr. Linda Vu of Linda Vision thought it would be useful to discuss when warm and cold compresses should be used. In particular, the trusted ophthalmologist wanted to discuss which type of compress is best for treating red, puffy eyes, a common eye concern among her patients.

Use a Cold Compress for Eye Swelling and Redness

Red eyes have many causes, including infection and trauma, and are often accompanied by other issues like redness in the skin surrounding the eyes, stinging and pain. In these cases, a cold compress is best to use. Cold temperatures help reduce redness by shrinking the blood vessels in the skin around the eyes. Swelling in the eye area due to an infection, black eye or another type of injury can also be reduced by applying a cold compress, as cold temperatures numb pain and minimize swelling. Cold temperatures can also help minimize puffiness in the eyelids. However, it is important to note that puffiness around the eye area can be a sign of an allergy. If you suspect your puffy eyes are due to allergies, you may need to take medicine to properly alleviate symptoms.

Cold compresses can also help alleviate pink eye, itchiness and burning eyes. But keep in mind that cold compresses are, in some cases, only a temporary solution. If your eye problems are recurring or you suspect they may be a sign of a more serious eye problem, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Vu immediately.

When a Warm Compress for Eyes is Appropriate

Warm compresses are used to soothe aches and pain, relax muscle spasms and joints, increase circulation and help heal injuries. A warm compress is particularly useful to treat dry eye syndrome caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibomian glands, which are located on the rim of the eyelids, secrete lipids (oils) that help slow the evaporation of tears. When meibomian glands malfunction or become plugged, tears evaporative too quickly, resulting in dry eye. A warm compress can be used to help melt away stagnant secretions from the meibomian glands, which allows the glands to produce the oils needed to slow the evaporation of tears. Warm compresses are also commonly used to treat blepharitis, a common eyelid inflammation that sometimes accompanies dry eye.

Learn More from Linda Vision

At Linda Vision, Dr. Vu and her entire staff are dedicated to helping you achieve optimum eye health. To learn more about how to treat common eye problems, or to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, please call our Monterey Park vision practice at (626) 382-2020.