Dry eye is a condition when there is a lack of moisture in the eye. Tears are necessary to provide a healthy surface for clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem that can affect your daily life and prevent you from being productive at work or even doing enjoyable activities such as watching a movie. Symptoms can include red, irritated, gritty and burning sensation. Excessive watering and blurred vision are symptoms of dry eye as well.
There are 2 forms of dry eye:
Insufficient amount of tears: when the tear gland does not produce enough tears.
Poor quality of tears: the tear film is made up of 3 layers; oil, water and mucus. The oil layer helps prevent the tears from evaporating, and the mucin layer helps spread the tears. A deficiency in any of these layers can cause dry eye. Dry eye can be temporary or chronic.
Common causes of dry eye are:
- - Medications such as antihistamines
- - Medical conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis
- - Age, aging increases chances of dry eye
- - Gender, women are more likely to have dry eye due to hormonal changes
What can be done to treat dry eye?
Quick-Fix Dry Eye Remedies
The quickest way to soothe your dry eyes is to use artificial tears. There are many over the counter products available at your local drugstore for you to choose from. They provide quick relief, but it is usually temporary. If you need to use them more than four times a day, it is best to use an artificial tear that is preservative free.
People who wear contact lenses tend to get dry eyes more frequently since the lens absorbs some of the eye’s moisture. If this is you, then make sure you only purchase rewetting drops that are compatible for your contact lenses. You can still use regular eye drops when your contacts are not in.
Another quick remedy is to fill a clean sink basin with steaming hot water and position your face just a couple inches above the water. The steam will rise up and moisten your eyes. Blink repeatedly until your eyes feel less dry.
While artificial tears can soothe your dry eye immediately, it’s affects are only temporary. For more chronic and advanced dry eye symptoms, other forms of daily treatment are necessary.
Daily Habits for Preventing Dry Eyes
Like the rest of your body, your eyes depend on a general state of well-being. This means that good diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep are essential to the health of your eyes. You already know you should be doing these things. Instead of expecting a quick fix to permanently manage your eye problems, tackle the root of the issue by keeping your body and eyes functioning properly.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is an essential nutrient that our bodies need. Unfortunately, most of us do not get enough through diet. Omega-3 provides positive benefits to many body systems, and doctors are now studying the benefits it provides to eye health. They have already discovered that it is necessary for proper development of fetal eyes. It turns out it may help with your dry eyes, also, by keeping the oil glands in your eyelids working efficiently and reducing inflammation. You can take an Omega-3 supplement, or add food sources to your diet. Some tasty choices are salmon, tuna, mussels, trout, grass-fed beef, flax seed and walnuts.
You’ve heard by now that healthy fats are good for your heart, but did you know that they’re necessary for your eyes and skin, too? Think of it this way. When you cook a fatty cut of meat, it stays moist in the oven. When you cook a lean cut, it dries out. Your eyes work the same way. They need dietary fat to help retain moisture. It’s easy to add healthy fat to your meals with nuts, olive oil, avocados, coconut, and fish. If you’ve been moisturizing from the outside and your eyes still feel like cotton balls, it’s time to moisturize from the inside. This applies to your skin, too!
Wash Your Eyelids
Sometimes, your eyelids overproduce the oil that lubricates your tears. When this happens, the follicles around your eyelashes can get clogged up with the oil. This makes your tears evaporate faster, and they are less effective at keeping your eyes moist. To take care of this problem, simply apply a warm compress to your eyelids, and then wash your eyelashes with a gentle, eye-safe cleanser. Tear-free baby shampoo works for this. Also, be sure to wash off your eye makeup every night. Otherwise, makeup particles can get rubbed into your eyes and cause irritation.
We’re not talking about push-ups here. The purpose of eye exercises is not to build muscle. The real focus is on keeping your eyes from developing eyestrain, which contributes to dry eyes. Eyestrain can be caused by staring at electronic screens too long, like those on computers, tablets, and e-readers.
When using these devices, remember to relax your eyes occasionally by looking up from the screen, about 20 feet away. The rule of 20/20/20 is after 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds, to allow your eyes to relax and defocus from the screen. This helps reduce eyestrain significantly. Also, make a conscious effort to blink frequently when looking at a screen. Blinking spreads tears across the cornea, rewetting it and helps clear up the image.
Who Needs Sleep?
You do! It’s truly amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. If you’re susceptible to dry eyes, then you have probably experienced the all-day dry eyes caused by lack of sleep. Give your eyes the full night of sleep they need. This is the time when your body recuperates.
But, Skip the Night Cap
Drinking alcohol before bed dehydrates you, and if your body is dehydrated, your eyes are dehydrated. If you are going to have a drink late at night, drink a glass of water with it to reduce the dehydrating effect.
Consider a Humidifier
If you’ve followed all these tips and your eyes are still dry all day, your environment may be especially dry. Try adding a humidifier to the room you spend the most time in. You can even find desktop humidifiers to help when you’re at work.
Stay Away from Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoke itself irritates your eyes and makes them dry. The chemicals in cigarettes also lead to other eye conditions, so you exacerbate your dry eye problem when you smoke. In fact, you nearly double your chances of having dry eyes if you smoke regularly. Non-smokers are not immune; just being around cigarette smoke increases the chance of developing dry eye syndrome.
Depending upon the cause of your dry eyes, you may need to change up your routine to incorporate good eye hygiene. The doctor in this video provides some of the causes of chronic dry eyes and tips for addressing the main one.
What dry eye remedies have you tried? Share your comments below.