Comm Eye Health Vol. 21 No. 68 2008 pp 67. Published online 01 December 2008.

Epilation of eyelashes

Sue Stevens

Nurse Advisor, Community Eye Health Journal , International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.

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Remember! Before performing any eye procedure:

  • Wash your hands (and afterwards too)
  • Position the patient comfortably with his/her head supported
  • Avoid distraction for yourself and the patient
  • Ensure good lighting
  • Always explain to the patient what you are going to do.


  • To remove ingrowing eyelashes (trichiasis)
  • To prevent corneal abrasion

You will need

  • Magnification (magnifying loupe)
  • Torch or flashlight
  • Gauze swabs
  • Local anaesthetic eye drops
  • Epilation forceps
  • A helper


  • Explain the procedure and advise the patient that it will cause some very brief discomfort
  • The patient, helper, and examiner should be positioned appropriately. The helper can hold the torch (Figure 1).
Figure 1. © Murray McGavin
Figure 1. © Murray McGavin


Instil the local anaesthetic eye drops.

Using magnification, identify the eyelashes which need epilating (Figure 2).

For lower eyelashes:

  • ask the patient to look up, fix his/her gaze, and keep still
  • with an index finger, gently hold down the lower eyelid

For upper eyelashes:

  • ask the patient to look down, fix his/her gaze, and keep still
  • with a thumb, gently ease the upper eyelid up against the orbital rim
  • With the epilation forceps in the other hand, hold the ingrowing eyelash close to its base and pull gently forward to pluck it out (Figure 3)

Repeat until all ingrowing lashes are epilated.

Between each epilation, wipe the eyelash off the forceps with a clean swab (Figure 4).

Reassure the patient when all ingrowing lashes have been removed and advise him/her not to rub the eye.

Figs. 2-4. © Murray McGavin
Figs. 2-4. © Murray McGavin