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Magnetic Lashes Yes Or No For Cancer Patients?

By Morag Currin

Can magnetic lashes be used on a survivor undergoing cancer treatment? Are magnetic lashes safe to use, and how well do these work on a person with alopecia resulting from treatment?

Let’s explore the two types of treatment that can affect the eyes and we can surmise the risk once we have more information about side effects.

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Morag Currin is a monthly featured guest blogger.  She has an entire library of content on Oncology Aesthetics® here at Lipgloss + Aftershave.

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Radiation Therapy

Eye changes are most common in cancer survivors who undergo radiation therapy for head and neck cancers as radiation is delivered close to the eyes. Side effects can first appear up to 18 months after treatment and are often permanent. Some of these side effects are:

  • Sensitivity to light
    • Avoiding bright lights or wearing glasses with tinted lenses can help you cope with this side effect
  • Permanent loss of eyelashes. As a result of lashes falling out, the survivor may experience watering of the eyes due to lash loss.
  • Vision changes (optic neuropathy)
    • Be aware that red is often the first color the survivor will have trouble with.

Anti-Cancer Drug Therapy

Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy are known to cause different eye problems. Most eye changes related to medications are temporary and go away by adjusting the dose or stopping the drugs.

Cataracts

  • Cataracts are painless and lead to progressive loss of vision, which occurs over time. Usually occurs in one eye and doesn’t spread to the other eye.
  • Medications: Bexarotene, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisone, prednisone.

Conjunctivitis aka “pink eye”

  • The name ‘conjunctivitis’ refers to the redness and inflammation that occurs around the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a clear, thin membrane that covers the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be allergic, viral, or bacterial. Chemotherapy drugs tend to suppress the immune system, making a person more susceptible to infection.
    • Antibiotic eye drops; clean hands; clean washcloths; sanitary applications of cosmetics and skincare for bacterial conjunctivitis.
    • Clean washcloths; clean hands; avoid cross-contamination with cosmetics and makeup for viral conjunctivitis. Warm compresses; wear glasses instead of contacts.
    • Remove any allergic substances, e.g., false lashes, contact lenses, makeup for allergic conjunctivitis
  • Medications: Capecitabine, carmustine, epirubicin, methotrexate, and oprevelkin, yervoy.

Dry Eye Syndrome aka keratoconjunctivitis sicca

  • Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears. Eyes may produce excessive tearing, but dry eye syndrome may be causing a lack of an important chemical to lubricate the eyes, which may make them feel dry.
    • Artificial tears; encourage the client to blink regularly; avoid eye pads if the client needs to reapply artificial tears regularly.
  • Medications: isotretinoin and tretinoin.

Photophobia

  • Photophobia is a word to describe the avoidance of light due to pain. This may commonly be a result of injury to the cornea, or inflammation of the uveal tract, and their surrounding muscles. The cornea is the clear covering of the eye. The uveal tract contains many structures that are important for your eye to function properly. During exposure to light, the pupils constrict or become smaller (these are the dark areas in the middle of the eye). Swelling of any of the eye structures may cause pain when the pupils are constricting.
    • Dark or colored eyeglasses like sunglasses; avoid mag lamps or bright lights in the spa when performing services.
  • Medications: cytarabine, fluorouracil, isotretinoin, and tretinoin.

Watery Eyes or excessive tearing aka epiphora

  • Watering of the eyes occurs when tears spill out of the eyes, even when a person is not crying. This is sometimes a result of a blockage in the eye’s drainage system, or if they are producing too many tears.
    • Warm compress to ease swelling, to help drain and reduce tear production; client to avoid rubbing their eyes.
  • Medications: capecitabine, cytarabine, doxorubicin, and fluorouracil.

Blepharitis aka inflammation of the eyelids

  • Blepharitis occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged, causing irritation and redness. It usually affects both eyes along the edges of the eyelids and doesn’t cause permanent damage to a person’s sight, and it is not contagious. Infections can cause eyelashes to grow inwards towards the eye which is painful. Blepharitis can cause the eyelashes to fall out, grow abnormally or fall out. Scarring can result on the eyelids.
    • Artificial tears; regular cleaning; warm compresses; remove makeup before going to sleep; no eyeliner use on the back edges of eyelids – behind the lashes

Glaucoma

  • Glaucoma is caused by the build-up of fluid in the eye that puts pressure on the optic nerve, retina, and lens. This pressure, which is referred to as intraocular pressure, can permanently damage the eye if it’s not treated.
  • With open-angle or chronic glaucoma, there’s no pain with the increased eye pressure. For some people, it’s hard to even notice the peripheral or side vision loss, and it only becomes noticeable when they’ve experienced significant vision loss already.
    • Prescription eye drops; lifestyle changes.
  • Medications: Corticosteroids (including cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone) for prolonged periods of time appears to put some people at risk of getting secondary glaucoma.

The Two Main Types of Magnetic Lashes Are:

  1. Magnetic strip system. A person needs stable lashes to apply these. This is a lash system that includes a top lash and a bottom lash that lock together with your own (top) lash in between to enhance the length and style.
  2. Magnetic eyeliner system. This can be suitable for people with alopecia. Magnetic lashes come with a magnetic eyeliner that in effect is the glue! A person creates a line on the top lid using the magnetic eyeliner and then presses the magnetic lash strip onto the magnetized eyeliner, which keeps it securely in place. To remove, use make-up remover and gently peel the lashes off.

Magnetic eyelashes are IDEAL for:

  • Non-sensitive eyes
  • A full makeup look on eyes (as the eyeliner is usually dark and a substantial amount required)
  • Have a steady hand
  • Multiple wears – good quality lashes and liners will give at least 15 wears

Magnetic eyelashes are NOT ideal if the person:

  • Is experiencing any of the conditions listed above
  • Wants a natural look. A reasonable amount of eyeliner must be applied for the lashes to attach. Many magnetized eyeliners are bold colors such as black and dark brown.
  • Has peripheral neuropathy in the hand and find it difficult to put on make-up
  • Blinks involuntarily when anything comes towards their eyes
  • Fatigue can prevail – sometimes it requires time to get these lashes on
  • Experiences traction alopecia (hair loss caused by constant pulling on the lashes). Although tiny, the magnets do make these magnetic lashes weigh more than standard false lashes.

There is mixed feedback from people who have or have had alopecia, because of chemotherapy treatment or other reasons and have tried using magnetic lashes. It is not a case that a person can’t choose to try magnetic lashes or that they won’t work, it’s that depending on the desired result, they may not be what they are looking for, or they may be too tricky to apply.

Morag Currin

About Morag

As a leader in our industry, Morag has spent over 27 years in the aesthetic/skin care industry, researching and constantly updating her knowledge on cancer and other diseases and how treatment affects the services we offer; plus she still offers services such as reflexology, aromatherapy and electrodessication. Morag pioneered Oncology Esthetics® training back in 2007. It was her concept that has driven change to our industry that others have followed. She consults globally with industry leaders by educating them how to include the cancer community. Besides making time for written articles and webinars she offers equine facilitated learning and activity sessions for the cancer community and veterans since there is a prevalence of significant psychological distress within these communities.

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