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Warm Compresses and the Risks of Elevated Corneal Temperature With Massage

Blackie, Caroline A. OD, PhD; McMonnies, Charles W. PhD; Korb, Donald R. OD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318292a7b7
Clinical Science

Purposes: To quantify the changes in corneal temperature resulting from intensive warm compress (WC) application with minimal pressure and to review the significance of these changes within the context of the peer-reviewed literature.

Methods: WC were applied intensively and unilaterally at 45 ± 0.5°C for 30 minutes with the contralateral eye serving as a control. Outer upper eyelid and central corneal surface temperatures were measured using an Infrared pyrometer at baseline. The WC were removed for repeat measurements of the outer upper eyelid surface and central corneal temperatures every 2 minutes and replaced with a new WC heated to 45 ± 0.5°C. Lid and corneal temperatures were monitored for 10 minutes after the final WC application.

Results: The mean age of the subjects was 37.1 ± 15.0 years (n = 12). The mean maximum outer upper lid temperature of 42.2 ± 1.3°C was reached after 6 minutes. The mean maximum corneal temperature of 39.4 ± 0.7°C was reached after 8 minutes of heating. The control eye showed no significant change in temperature from baseline throughout the experimental period.

Conclusions: These data show that WC use for lid warming, even when only minimal contact pressure is applied, also transfers significant heat to the cornea. Corneal temperatures reach peak temperature after about 8 minutes of WC application. Recent reports discussing the increased potential for transient and long-term corneal molding subsequent to the heat and pressure of WC application are briefly reviewed.

*TearScience Inc, Morrisville, NC;

Korb Associates, Boston, MA; and

School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Reprints: Caroline A. Blackie, 400 Commonwealth Ave, Unit #2, Boston, MA 02215 (e-mail:

Supported by Korb Associates, Boston, MA; TearScience Inc, Morrisville, NC.

Received January 31, 2013

Accepted March 15, 2013

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.