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How do you clean ointment residue off your lids, lashes and eyes? (11/2023)Updated 7 months ago

Dates: November 10-15, 2023

Responses: 118 responses, 92 ointment users


Night time ointments tend to leave greasy residue on and around the eyes. This residue can then transfer to the surfaces of scleral lenses and interfere with vision, comfort or both during the day. 

So, we ran this survey to gather practical tips that could help scleral lens users who need to use ointment at night. We are looking for insights from ointment users about whether and how they clean off ointment residue in the morning.

Summary of results

  • Almost everyone (95%) notices ointment residue in the morning.
  • Most people (90%) attempt to do something about it at least some of the time.
  • Of those, 70% seem to have found a method that works consistently for them.

Question 1: Do you notice ointment residue in the morning? (92 answers)

Question 2: Do you take any special steps to remove ointment residue? (88 answers)

Question 3: Does the method you use work?

Methods that worked for participants

Most people seemed to rely on one, two, or all three of the following - not necessarily in this order!

  1. Rinsing with saline (or eye drops)
  2. Warm cloth, compress or steam
  3. Eyelid cleansing product: lid wipe, foam, spray or gel.

Many people also mentioned that applying their prescription eye drops first seemed to be part of the solution. I encourage you to read more below!

Specific descriptions offered

  • I use Dr. Fischer hydrating eyelid cleansing wipes. I also use Optase eyelid hydrochlorus spray at night, but I will double up the methods if needed. 
  • I use Boston Simple’s and rinsing with tap and saline [I'm guessing you're talking about cleaning your lens and not your lids which is what the question was about. If so, PLEASE DO NOT use water to rinse your lenses, as this increases your risk of acanthamoeba keratitis (about the most serious form of eye infection).]
  • Wipe eyelids/under eyes with tissue, then wash with warm water and towel dry.
  • I rinse my eyes with drops and then use an eyelid scrub
  • Usually just comes off when I wash my face and do my eye irritation. If it was problematic, I could use a lid wipe. 
  • Lid and lash cleaner. And I flush my eyes with saline 
  • Hot compress from tap.
  • I wash my face with Cetaphil then spray the lashes with avenova and wipe clean 
  • Wash eye lashes in morning with hand or face soap and dry. Flush eyes with saline PF to wash debris away. 
  • I spray Optase Protect Eye Cleaning Spray [hypochlorous] on to a cotton round and wipe the residue from my eyes.
  • Wipe eyes carefully first thing in the morning.  Insert lenses about 10 mins later.
  • I first use my medicated eye drops. Then I wash my face and eyes with my facial cleanser and water. Then with a magnifying mirror I use a Qtip to remove any lingering ointment.
  • Clean eyelid area with lid wipe. Soft cloth with warm water to get ointment off eye. Then i use a prescription eye drop.
  • Manually scrub eye lids and eyelashes with water. Next, I irrigate eye with a goodly amt of Bausch and Lomb Advanced Eye Wash. I then use the damp cloth to scrub lash line again. If I have issues later, I use a q-tip to wipe surface of lens. [COMMENT: B&L's eye wash is preserved with benzalkonium chloride. Considering the frequency of use, you may want to consider switching to a preservative free saline.]
  • Soap and water or vanicream cleanser with water. 
  • Shower, use blephasteam for 10 mins, clean eyelids and lashes with sterile wipes, put drops in
  • As  soon as I awake for the day, I  use  Ocusoft foam lid cleanser, coating my closed eyes with the foam and, lightly rubbing it with my finger along top and bottom of inner lids rinsing it with a very warm to hot wash cloth, using the cloth to bath my eyes, much as a compress.
  • I use a liberal amount of saline solution to flush my eye. I use a baby washcloth to wipe my lid.  Sometimes I have to take out my contact, clean it and reinsert it.
  • Rinse with Saline and stone crop gel wash for lashes 
  • Wash my face. Putting in my lens is one of the last thinkgs I do before going to work
  • A warm cloth,  putting my head under water in my bath,  then using prescription eye drops for pressure and dry eyes.
  • Hot water and facecloth
  • Toilet paper is very absorbent; also moist heat application will do 
  • I wash my eyes with baby shampoo to remove anything that might get my contacts dirty. This could be ointment residue or eye goo or even lotion. [I'm not surprised it works, and I know it's economical, but I just need to note that baby shampoo is not great for the tear film.]
  • Rinse eye thoroughly with Purilens saline
  • Clean with Ocusoft foam in the shower, use fresh saline to rinse eye prior to insertion
  • I use AST first thing in the mornings to start clearing the residual ointment. Warm compresses help to further melt residual ointment followed by eyelid hygiene with OcuSoft Plus Platinum foam. Just prior to lens insertion, I irrigate my eyes with saline.
  • I use Ivizia eyelid gel on a cotton pad to clean my eyelids thoroughly as part of my early morning routine.  Before inserting my Scleral lenses, I wipe off my eyelids with water on a cotton pad. 
  • Flood eye with saline and dab off eye lids with a tissue.
  • I use Xiidra every morning when I get up.  After 10 -15 minutes any residue is gone.
  • Warm compresses to eyelids. As needed, use a little gentle cleanser like cetaphil to lids… do not get in eyes
  • I press a warm to safely hot, wet washcloth on eyes for about a minute. Then wash face using mild soap with eyes squeezed tightly shut.  Then leave the soap on for 20 seconds or so,  rinsing with warm to cool water. *I use goats milk soap (no added ingredients) from The Bend Soap Company, Oregon. It rinses clean even with soft water. Cotton cosmetic pads work well too. 
  • I take a long q-tip and pour a little preservative free saline on it and gently wipe the upper and lower lids and the remaining saline I use as eye drops on each eye until empty.
  • Avenova spray and cerave facial cleanser 
  • I use a damp cotton ball to gently cleanse my eyes and remove ointment residue, crystal deposits and mucus.
  • I rinse my eye with saline solution. However, at times I have to do it again during the day
  • Flushing my eye with saline- either Purilens plus, or Refresh eye drops. For my face, I use warm water and a face cloth.
  • I use micellar water.
  • I use a warm face cloth and wipe around my eyes; then get the remainder from the corners of my eye.  
  • I use a warm washcloth to remove.  Initially I'll place the washcloth on the eyes and compress.  Then I gently wipe the residue off.
  • I use a microfiber make-up facial cloth that I purchased from Norwex products. It does an excellent job. Then I finish cleaning with Zocular foam.
  • Use Unisol 4 as eye wash
  • After removing my night time patch. I use saline solution a steady sream washing out the eye. Then I use OCuSoft lid  scrub plus. Wipe eyes while shut. Then continue washing   eye lids with warm water & dry with a lint free cloth. Continue putting my scleral lens in.
  • 10 minutes of hot compresses followed by Ocusoft Plus lid scrub, followed by a drop of Boiron Optique 1 (until I get to the kitchen where I then use a drop of my autologous serum drops). [PLEASE NOTE Boiron Optique drops have been subject to 2 FDA warning letters this year.]
  • Dilute Cetaphil with water and apply to eyelids, then rinse off.
  • I wash eyes/lids when I wake up with warm wash cloth. In shower I use Ocusoft plus platinum foam and rinse off. 
  • I use OTC Systane Pres. Free Hydration PF eye drops immediately upon waking and use Kleenex soothing lotion tissues to wipe my lids. 
  • Just my normal facial cleanser works for me.
  • Very warm water on baby washcloth and follow with HypoChlor Spray on a cotton pad with eyes tightly closed. 
  • I put in eye drops before I get out of bed.  Even though I use an ointment with press and seal wrap (per dr's orders) to keep lids closed, my eyes are still dry.  I then irrigate my eyes with Purilens saline.  I then wash my face, and wash my lids with Ocusoft lid scrub foam cleanser. 
  • I wash my eyelids with a pH-balanced vaginal cleanser that is natural, no scent.
  • I wash my eyelids and lashes with We Love Eyes or Ocusoft Original (both are foaming). Some residue still remains. I have recently also been washing again with Optisoap, which helps remove more residue.
  • Use Ivizia Micellar cleaner
  • I use Heyedrate eyelash and lid spray on a cotton ball and wipe my lids and margins every morning. 

More comments

And... even more comments! I like to try to include as much as possible on challenging topics like this as I never know when someone might happen across just the pearl they needed.

  • I use Muro 128 and after trying Ivizia and a couple of other OTC ointments, this is the only one that keeps me from having pain in the morning.  I'll be interested to see if anyone has a solution to the greasy residue.  I put glasses in when I get up and they are continually smeared.  The ointment doesn't seem to effect my schlerals.
  • I'd love to find a solution to this issue that doesn't cost much and doesn't involve rubbing my eyelids. Thanks for the survey. 
  • No,  there has got to be a solvent to remove the oils that is safe for the eyes. 
  • The longer you can wait to put the lens in your eye, the greater the chance of blinking away the residual ointment. Still need a better solution for getting rid of residue inside the eye. 
  • It’s a tough problem when you use ointment and sclerals!! I wish I had a better idea of how to manage it 
  • I often have to remove and clean lenses, then re-rinse eyes after an hour or two of wearing.
  • I have started using your recommendation to clean the lens with a cotton q-tip
  • HAVE to have the nighttime ointment, but it's sure hard to get the eyes cleared in the AM!
  • Must get all ointment off before inserting sclerals
  • I often have to take lenses out , reclean and reinsert right after inserting due to residue
  • I am glad you are doing this survey as I am really at a loss as to how to remove the residue before putting my sclerals in. I just run a clean finger over my eyelid margin and use autologous serum hoping this will help. Curious to see what others do. Thanks for doing this survey!
  • My doc recommended only putting in a rice grain [of ointment] in, I was putting in a lot more than that.
  • Sometimes I have to do it twice and use Refresh to wash out the eyes
  • I don’t have an issue with ointment residue on my lenses, however if the products mentioned didn’t do it for me I’d double up my facial cleanser with an oil based cleanser first. This is normally just done at night but it should break up the greasy residue. You do need to use a regular facial cleanser after the oil based one. 
  •  I wear scleral lenses. I make sure to use an ointment that does not have lanolin in it. The ointment that I use is Soothe Nighttime it has only 2 ingredients - mineral oil and white petroleum.
  • I use Genteal Tears Gel [instead of ointment]
  • Since my eye inflammation is better I find the am not using ointment as much,  just a few drops of Systane Ultra  before sleep and once in middle of night. 
  • I use muro 128 ointment at night
  • Tough combination
  • I use ointment every time I take out my lens for any length of time. I also make a moisture chamber for my eye too.
  • I really need to rinse well with Saline and not do a quick job
  • I have to use Retaine PM because my eyelids do not close and I have had a cornea transplant plus,  a drop of refresh liquigel.   I have to work to remove the ointment before putting in my contact lenses. 
  • I rarely get any residual ointment on my lenses if I pay close attention to eyelid hygiene before insertion.
  • I use a magnified mirror to visually check my eyelids to be sure that all ointment residue has been removed before inserting my Scleral lenses.  And, of course, I wash my hands thoroughly with soap with special attention to my fingertips before handling the lenses.
  • wash face, wipe away left residue.
  • Ointment I use is prescription Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment.  I put a 1/4" bead in each eye at bedtime. 
  • I believe that many people who are Scleral users also need gels, ointments. Interested to see what this study finds. Thanks for asking the questions.
  • Not using scleral lenses at this time. When I did use them, a good rinse with Puri-lens in my eyes did the trick. 
  • I am a scleral lens user and am having a hard time seeing b/c of the ointment
  • I only recently started using avenova. And am wondering if I should not be using facial cleanser on my eyelids. 
  • I am a scleral user and if I don’t flush away the ointment residue, my vision is cloudy.
  • It doesn't really interfere with my vision. 
  • While my method of removing ointment residue from my lids, lashes and eyes works well, it does not stop the buildup of residual ointment from causing my scleral lenses from becoming cloudy over time.  My doctor has to deep clean my scleral lenses with a solution that is not sold over the counter.  [I’m thinking you may mean Progent? You can actually get this over the counter.]
  • I am a scleral lens user. I have facial paralysis and the result of no tears in my effected eye. With no tears I continue to use Systane night time lubricant and patch at night because my eye doesn't shut completely.  I realized early that I couldn't just pop my scleral lens in my eye after heavy lubricant all night. I have used contact  lens solution or eye drops to remove the night time lubricant. Fill my scleral lens with 2 or 3 drops of celluvisc  and continue filling with purilens or nutrifil.  I will say scleral lens have been a life changing experience for me!
  • Even if I don't use the ointment, I frequently have residue on my sclera lenses. The white film is in a Crescent moon shape [Deposits are typical on the most exposed part of the lens]
  • Feels like I'm looking through a heavy fog
  • I generally use refresh pm ON my lids like a moisturizer and not usually IN my eyes but sometimes I need extra on the corners which will run into my eye. 
  • I’ve had zero issues with residual ointment getting in my sclerals but I always wash my face well before putting them in.
  • I wear sclerals and haven’t had an issue so far. I use multiple drops prior to lens insertion so that may help to remove any residual ointment in addition to the lid cleaning. 
  • My doctor has me using Optase Hylo Night Ointment at night with Glad Press in Seal Wrap, cut into 3" squares to hold my lids shut.  The Glad wrap is cheap and comfortable, especially as a side sleeper.   I was surprised how well it stays on!  I also don't get messy ointment on my sheets with this method.  I do sometimes have some residue on my face, that I scrub off in the morning.  Even though I tend to have greasy ointment on my lids in the mornings, irrigating my eyes with saline, and then using Ocusoft lid scrub, gets rid of most of it.  I then have to wait about 30 minutes before putting in my contacts, due to using two different prescription eye drops.  
  • Fortunately, ointment use has not affected my scleral lens use.

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