Eyelashes are the hairs that grow at the edge of the eyelid. Eyelashes protect the eyes from debris and perform the same function as whiskers do on a cat or mouse in the sense that they are sensitive to touch, thus providing a warning that an object such as insect, dust or any foreign body is near the eye (which then closes reflexively).
The eye is the most sensitive organ of the body, and can be damaged easily when in contact with any foreign body.
Fixing eyelashes has become an increasingly popular trend in the fashion world, becoming a must-have for most women seeking perfection and a glamorous look.
Artificial or fake lashes supplement the existing eyelashes, often temporarily or within a period of time. These false lashes last for days or weeks. However, artificial lashes have serious health implications on the eye.
It can cause adverse reaction to the skin and eye, even the slightest irritation can damage the eye and can sometimes lead to loss of sight. This usually happens as a result of foreign bodies (an object) in the eye that should not be there, such as a speck of dust, wood chip, metal shaving, insect, or piece of glass.
Fake lashes are known as penetrating foreign bodies, because they penetrate the outer layer of the eye (cornea or sclera) and enter the eye. Sometimes a projectile object can pierce the eye and enter the eyeball, causing serious injury and even blindness.
Symptoms such as scratchy feeling when blinking, watery and red eyes, sharp pain in the eye followed by burning and irritation, sensitivity to bright light, blurred vision or loss of vision in the affected eye and bleeding into the white part of the eye are some symptoms of penetrating foreign bodies (fake lashes) in the eye.
Material such as lash glue ring, cur bower, tweezers and primer among others can cause infection such as swollen and reddened eyeball which could lead to blepharitis.
Blepharitis is a chronic eye condition characterised by inflammation that sometimes is associated with bacterial eye infection. Blepharitis could affect the outside front of the eyelid where the eye lashes are attached (anterior blepharitis) or posterior blepharitis, linked to the dysfunction of meibomian glands within the eyelids that secrete oil to help lubricate the eye resulting in inflamed, irritated, itchy and reddened eyelids.
However for Jennifer Adeniran, who uses fake eyelashes it is always a bitter sweet experience. “This is because the first time I fixed eyelashes it was hell for me, my eyes itched and swelled up, but when I checked out my eyes in the mirror, I liked what I saw, and my friends complimented the lashes on my eyes and that is why in spite of the initial pains, I won’t stop fixing eyelashes because of the beauty it adds to me,” she said.
Hafsat Auwal said her natural lashes stopped growing after she retracted the false lashes, which made her visit an eye specialist and it caused her a lot of money to treat.
Dr Salihu Buba Zubairu, an ophthalmologist at “Sight is Life” eye clinic in Maiduguri, Borno State, said the pressure exerted in fixing the lashes can damage the hair follicles on the eyelids, thus natural lashes become sparse, brittle and break off easily due to too much pressure on them, leading to slow growth or even stopping their growth permanently.
In some cases, the adhesive used to connect the natural and artificial lashes may lead to a condition called traction alopecia. It can lead to permanent hair loss due to the condition. The use of harmful chemicals on the eye lashes can cause them to fall quicker than they naturally would, it also causes the eye lashes to shed quicker than they are supposed to.
Dr Buba also added that the false lashes are considerable hygiene risk because they tend to trap dirt and bacteria. These harmful particles usually cause irritation to the eye and can cause infection such as bacterial and viral infection. This infection can lead to eye related diseases such as corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, the thin clear structure overlying the iris (the coloured part of the eye).
Whats The Purpose Of Eyelashes? Natural eyelashes protect the eye from dust, foreign bodies and sweat while artificial or fake lashes are unhygienic and usually cause irritation and infection. Women should therefore know that their health is much better than their looks. They should avoid any harmful artificial accessory in order to stay healthy. For the eyes are the window to the soul.