May is Vision Health Month. Here, we provide 15 tips to help you prevent and treat dry eyes.
Dry eye(s) is a common condition due to insufficient lubrication in the eye(s). For some, it is more than just a temporary annoyance and requires constant management. This is the case when an individual has ocular surface disease, a common eye disorder in which the eye does not make enough tears or the right quality of tears. In other cases, dry eyes could be due to the excessive use of electronics, referred to as computer vision syndrome.
Other causes of dry eyes include:
- A variety of medications (sleeping medications, antidepressant and anxiety medications, cold and allergy medications, and more)
- Some diseases (lupus, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, immune disorders, hormonal changes, and more)
- Limited blinking while reading, looking at computer screens, watching television, staring at something for too long, etc.
- Living in highly polluted, dry, or windy environments or climates
- Wearing contact lenses for excessive amounts of time
- Experiencing seasonal allergies
- Recent eye surgery
Symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Burning, stinging, or scratching sensation in the eye(s)
- Eye irritation: feeling like there is something in the eye(s)
- Eye redness and/or inflammation
- Presence of mucus within the eye area
- Excessive tears
- Unable to wear contact lenses due to sensitivity
If you live in a highly polluted area such as a city, or in a dry and windy environment such as the desert or mountain, you are more likely to experience dry eyes.
How to avoid and treat dry eyes
1. Use an air filter and/or an air humidifier
An air filter can help increase the air quality in your home, while an air humidifier can help improve the moisture in your home. These two products can help relieve symptoms of dry eyes.
2. Wear eye protection
If you live in a city or a windy environment, wearing glasses can protect your eyes from debris or wind. Wraparound glasses can especially help you avoid anything that can come into contact with your eyes.
3. Stay away from cigarette smoke
Being around cigarette smoke can be a nuisance to dry eyes.
4. Stay hydrated
If you are dehydrated, you will likely experience dry eyes, headache, eyestrain, and blurry sight. While dehydrated, you may have a difficult time developing tears. Adults should drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
5. Eat omega-3 fatty acids
Incorporating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may help with dry eyes. Some foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines; nuts and seed such as flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds; and plant oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may also be helpful.
6. Get plenty of exercise
Exercise helps to heat up the body and increase blood flow, which can result in oil production in the eyes.
7. Give yourself an eye massage
Gently massaging your eyes to activate oil glands may help to add some moisture back into your eyes.
8. Blink frequently or close your eyes
If you are re frequently reading or on a computer, it is important to take breaks to close your eyes for a couple of minutes, or to blink often.
9. Place a warm compress on your eyes
Putting light pressure on your eyes using a wet and warm cloth can help activate oil glands. Make sure to rinse your eyes after using the warm compress.
10. Use artificial tears or eye gels
Artificial tears or eye gels are a popular method of providing relief from dry eyes. However, eye gels can affect your vision, and it is advised to use eye gels before bedtime.
11. Speak to your doctor about punctal plugs
Punctual plugs are biocompatible devices that are inserted into the corners of the inner eyelids. They plug the upper and lower eyelids so that tears have fewer areas to drain to, allowing tears to moisturize the eyes. Doctors may suggest these when non-prescription or prescription eye drops fail to relieve dry eyes.
12. Consider light therapy
Recent studies have found that a technique called intense-pulsed-light therapy followed by a massage could reduce symptoms of dry eyes. Cosmetic and medical practitioners usually offer this service.
13. Limit your use of contact lenses
Contact lenses can cause the eyes to become dry. Consider limiting or eliminating your use of contact lenses.
14. Consider prescriptions
Ask your doctor about prescriptions that can help treat dry Eyes. Prescription medications for dry eyes usually include Restasis, Xiidra, Lacrisert, and steroid eye drops.
15. Speak to your doctor
Book an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular check-ups and eye concerns. It is important that your eyes remain in a moist condition. Ignoring dry eye symptoms can result in infections and inflammation, leading to a variety of health issues.
Whether you have dry eyes or not, always protecting your eyes from the elements is important. Make sure to try these 15 tips to help alleviate your dry eyes symptoms. If your symptoms worsen or do not go away, make sure to contact your doctor again.
Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer
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