Patients With MGD May Suffer Burns From Unconventional Heating Remedies

Only clinically-approved therapeutic devices should be used to treat meibomian gland dysfunction.

Unconventional eyelid heating remedies for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can cause burn injuries, according to findings presented at the American Academy of Optometry 2022 annual meeting, held in San Diego, CA from October 26 to 29.

Etty Bitton, OD, MSc, FAAO, director of the Dry Eye Clinic at Université de Montréal, led a study investigating the safety of 4 unconventional, low-cost eyelid heating remedies used to liquefy solidified meibum and encourage natural blinking.

The researchers tested whether temperatures using these unconventional methods, which included a wooden spoon immersed in boiling water, a hard-boiled egg, a bag of rice, and a hot potato, could remain between a therapeutic interval of 40 to 45 ̊C. The spoon, egg, and potato methods were evaluated with and without a face cloth wrapped around them. Heated rice was tested with 100 and 200 gram bags. These methods were compared with a thermal mask used as a control.

According to the report, each method reached its maximum temperature 2 minutes after heating. Only the wooden spoon method sustained the therapeutic temperature interval for more than 1 minute (with face cloth: 4.12 minutes; without face cloth: 1.53 minutes).

Maximum heat exceeded 55 ̊C for all of the unconventional techniques, with or without a face cloth. Maximum temperatures reached 87.84 °C for the hot potato, 81.02 °C for the boiled egg, 71.21 °C for the 100g bag of rice, and 67.25°C for the heated wooden spoon. Temperatures obtained with a face cloth wrapped around the object were lower compared with temperatures recorded without the face cloth (P <.01), but these values still failed to reach the therapeutic interval.  

Only the thermal mask offered consistent heat at the therapeutic interval for 13 minutes.

“These unconventional eyelid heating remedies, with the established protocol, have a heat retention profile beyond the therapeutic temperature for the management of MGD and has the potential to cause a burn injury of the eyelid and surrounding skin,” according to the poster presenters.


Bitton E, Perquin A. Heat retention evaluation of unconventional home-based eyelid heating remedies. Poster presented at: American Academy of Optometry 2022 annual meeting; October 26-29, 2022; San Diego, CA.