• Years of Embedded Mascara Found Under Woman’s Eyelid

    Jul. 18, 2018

    Get updated eye makeup safety tips from the Academy.

    A woman in Australia began feeling pain in her eye when she discovered a serious problem, according to Newsweek magazine. After wearing mascara for 25 years without proper removal, she developed a reaction in her conjunctiva to the mascara, which caused follicular conjunctivitis. The mascara had accumulated and hardened under her eyelids. The woman's story was widely reported after it was published in the journal Ophthalmology.

    Mascara can form particles that can become dislodged from the eyelashes. The sensation this woman experienced could be best described as sandpaper scratching the eye. The sandpaper build-up, or dark calcified bumps, would scratch her eyeball and cornea — the clear, round dome covering the iris and pupil.

    While this case is uncommon and most of these scratches heal without long-term issues, any scratch on the surface of the eye can lead to an infection of the cornea. 

    Closeup of the inside of a woman's eyelid, showing mascara buildup from years of improper use.
    Decades of mascara had built up and calcified under an Australian woman's eyelid, leading to ongoing pain and recurring corneal scratches.

    Most eye makeup, including mascara, is generally safe if you follow proper technique for application and maintenance. Here are a few important makeup tips:

    • Never share your eye makeup with others.
    • Remember to always wash your makeup brushes regularly.
    • Replace eye makeup every three months or immediately if you have an eye infection.
    • Pay attention to expiration dates. Mascara can promote the growth of bacteria and viruses.
    • If mascara or other eye makeup gets in your eye, be careful not to rub the eye as this can cause irritation.

    If your symptoms persist, you should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.