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Cold Compress on Eyes: Benefits, Types, How-To

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Cold Compress on Eyes Benefits Overview

Placing a cold compress on the eyes delivers benefits beyond just immediate relief from inflammation. Cold compresses are a great home remedy to keep your eyes feeling and looking fresh every day as part of an eye health and wellness plan.

This article will explore the benefits of cold compresses on the eyes and the different types and common eye problems that warrant applying a cold compress for quick relief. We’ll also share how to know when to use a cold compress vs. a warm compress on your eyes. Hint: It’s really up to you!

Key Points

  • The benefits of cold compresses for the eyes include both everyday comfort and immediate relief from sudden flare-ups due to eye conditions.
  • You can make a cold compress at home or use a pre-made cold compress mask.
  • Cold compresses are a great tool in your eyelid hygiene routine to keep dry eye symptoms low.


Cold compress, conjunctivitis, dry eye disease, eye allergies, eyelid hygiene, pink eye, warm compress

Taking the First Step

We all know that applying cold to our bodies can help provide immediate relief from an injury or illness. You burn your finger while cooking. What do you do? Run under cold water or grab an ice pack. You have a headache. What would feel good? A nice cold cloth on your forehead.

Your eyes are no different! A cold compress on your eyes has many great benefits. It provides immediate relief from conditions like dry eye disease, eye allergies, and pink eyes, and can be a great tool that you can use every day to wake up and refresh your eyes.

But first, what are we talking about when we say “cold compress”?

What is a Cold Eye Compress?

A cold compress is something cold that you apply directly to the skin to reduce inflammation.¹ When it comes to your eyes, this cold compress is placed directly over your eyelids.

You can make a cold compress with just a towel and cold water or place ice cubes in a plastic bag wrapped with a towel. Some people grab a bag of frozen peas, but we hate to see food go to waste! You’ve likely also seen gel-filled cold compresses or ice packs at the drugstore that stay in your freezer or that you “break” to initiate the cooling effect. While these may work, many require refrigeration or freezing before use and contain chemicals that you wouldn’t want to place near your eyes.

The doctors behind CorneaCare knew that dry eye patients and other sufferers of common eye conditions often forget to refrigerate or freeze their masks, so they developed a self-cooling gel eye mask.

The Rescue hydrogel cold compress mask is one of the first of its kind to use safe, plant-based ingredients to provide immediate and sustained cooling relief. Plus, each mask comes individually wrapped, intended for one-time use. No need to remember to place it back in the freezer – we know you have enough on your mind!

Benefits of Cold Compresses for the Eyes

One of the apparent benefits of a cold compress on the eyes is the cooling relief you get from pain. But, what is going on behind the scenes (or, in this case, behind your eyes)?

Using cold on your skin restricts blood circulation around the affected area, reducing swelling and pain.¹ Your eyes experience swelling, inflammation, pain and redness from certain eye conditions. Dry eye diseaseeye allergies, pink eye and even just tired eyes can benefit from a refreshing cold compress.


Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease, also known as dry eye syndrome, is a chronic condition that affects 30 million Americans and over 300 million people worldwide. The symptoms of dry eye disease (DED) include watery eyes, redness, gritty sensation, blurry vision and eye pain.

People develop DED for various reasons. Changes in hormones, medications, other medical conditions and lifestyle can all impact DED. The main biological cause of dry eyes is from unstable tears – either not producing enough or not the right quality tears. Many people try several treatments for dry eyes without experiencing relief, often totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars. The financial toll, combined with chronic symptoms, leads many DED patients to experience depressionsocial anxiety and decreased work productivity.

While there isn’t a cure for DED, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle modificationseyelid hygiene (cold compress, warm compress, and eyelid cleansing), a good diet and artificial tears.


Eye Allergies

The symptoms of eye allergies (allergic conjunctivitis) are similar to dry eye disease, except they appear seasonally (typically in the spring and fall). They also accompany other symptoms like sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose.² Some people say they experience more “puffiness” and itching around the eyes with allergies.

Unfortunately, many decongestants, antihistamines and eye drops intended to treat allergy symptoms can dry the eyes out more.² A cold compress for eye allergies is a fantastic way to reduce inflammation and ease sore, painful eyes.

Using a moist compress like CorneaCare’s Rescue Hydrogel cold compress ensures your eyes stay hydrated while they cool off. This unique mask contains plant-based hydrogel, a soft, elastic and breathable material that can retain lots of water, allowing it to hydrate and soothe rapidly.

Pink Eye

Pink eye may be one of the most feared eye conditions. Ask any parent! Bacteria or viruses (much more common) cause pink eye (conjunctivitis), which is inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, covering the white part of your eye.³ The tell-tale signs of pink eye are red, itchy and puffy eyes and a thick discharge.

Although a cold compress won’t cure pink eye, you should experience relief and see symptoms clear in a few days if used alongside eye drops and eyelid cleansing. You should also discard soft contact lenses you’ve worn recently and disinfect your contact lens case. If symptoms persist, you should always call your eye doctor for an eye exam to rule out other issues.

CorneaCare Rise eyelid wipes can be a great tool to use when you wake up to remove the crust that forms over the eyelids overnight. These eyelid wipes are made with hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil to cleanse and moisturize inflamed eyelids gently.

Tired Eyes

Do you ever notice that your eyes feel tired, perhaps after looking at a screen too long (digital eye strain) or doing focused work? Your eyes experience fatigue, just like the rest of your body, when they are involved in tasks (i.e., pretty much everything you do, all day long!).

When working, drawing, typing, or reading, you may forget to blink or give your eyes proper rest. This may lead to dry eyes, eye strain, and eye pain.

Treat your tired eyes throughout the day with a cold compress.

Perhaps you are intentional about taking a 10-minute break at the top of the hour while working or enjoying a hobby. Use one or two of those breaks to give your eyes some love with a cold compress. At your place of work or traveling? Throw an individually wrapped Rescue eye mask into your bag and pull it out when your eyes start to feel tired. At the end of your 10-15 minute break, notice how your eyes feel. Ready to get back at it?

When to Use Cold Compress vs. Warm Compress for the Eyes

There seems to be some confusion about when to use a cold compress vs. a warm compress for the eyes. While they do different things (cold compress restricts blood flow to reduce inflammation while warm compress helps blood flow to promote healing), they can both be a part of your eyelid hygiene routine.

People with certain eye conditions, like blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) find that warm compresses help their symptoms more than a cold compress. These conditions result from clogged oil glands and poor eyelid oil (meibum) drainage. A warm compress helps to loosen the oils in the eyelids to promote proper tear drainage.⁴

However, a warm compress may not feel great when you have a significant worsening of your symptoms, such as a flare-up. That’s when a cold compress can make a big difference. Many people prefer to do a warm compress daily, and use cold compresses as needed on days their symptoms really act up.

How to Make a Warm Compress

You can make a warm compress the same way as a cold compress by wetting a washcloth or towel with warm water. However, the warmth tends only to last a few minutes. You can also fill a sock with uncooked rice, tie it at the end and place it in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until it reaches your desired temperature. With the rice-sock method, you may notice it moves a bit too much when you place it on your eyes. Since it’s dry, it also doesn’t deliver the hydrating effects that can help with most eye conditions, like dry eyes.

CorneaCare’s Rest self-heating warm compress eye mask is a convenient way to deliver sustained, moist heat to your eyelids. This effective mask uses hydrated minerals to work with your body to initiate a natural catalytic reaction. This reaction powers the self-heating mechanism to provide therapeutic warmth for up to 30 minutes.

Putting It All Together

A cold compress on the eyes benefits your overall eye health, and can relieve pain associated with some eye conditions.

The best way to care for your eyes and prevent infection and inflammation is to practice good daily eye care, just like you do for your teeth, skin and nails.

CorneaCare believes that eye care should be a part of self-care. With the right education and tools, you can have healthy eyes for life.

What’s next

Want to learn about the cold compress’ best friend, warm compress? Learn more in this article!

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