Although dry eyes are a common condition, they can interfere with daily activities like reading and driving. However, most people can get significant relief through simple modifications in their usual routines and inexpensive products available at any drugstore.
Understanding the Facts About Dry Eyes
- Know the causes. Dry eyes are created by insufficient tears or an imbalance in the quality of your tears. Either way, your eyes need more lubrication.
- Recognize the symptoms. You’re likely to experience irritation, sensitivity to light, and blurring of vision. You may feel like something is in your eye and you’ll notice more mucus. Also, your eyes may tear up unexpectedly as they try to protect themselves.
- Identify your risk factors. Dry eyes become more common with age, especially for postmenopausal women.
- Some medications also increase the risk, including antihistamines, birth control pills, and antidepressants.
- Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis are often associated with dry eyes.
- Temporary symptoms may also occur after laser eye surgery or radiation therapy for cancer patients.
Common Home Remedies and Medical Treatments for Dry Eyes
- Use artificial teardrops. Nonprescription eye drops are the first line of defense. Experiment with different brands or talk with your doctor to find the right formula for you.
- Ask your doctor about prescription drugs. Restasis is a prescription drug that has been proven to help eyes manufacture more tears. Topical steroids may also be used in some cases.
- Undergo temporary or permanent punctual occlusion. This simple and painless procedure plugs the duct where tears go to drain. For people with chronic symptoms, this can be more convenient than constantly reapplying eye drops.
- Consider surgery. Closing the tear ducts permanently is a safe outpatient procedure. Even if you do elect to undergo this surgery, you’ll usually be able to resume normal activities right away.
- Change your diet. Studies show that foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin A help keep your eyes lubricated. Eat more tuna and other fatty fish. Also, take in plenty of canola oil, soybeans, and walnuts. Good sources of vitamin A include carrots and broccoli.
- Rest your eyes. Take frequent breaks from computer work or reading to close your eyes, or look into the distance for a few seconds. Position the focal point of your computer screen an inch or two below eye level so your eyes will stay a little less wide open.
- Protect your eyes from contaminants. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Wear wrap-around sunglasses on windy days. Keep fans and hair dryers turned away from your eyes.
Learning to Use Eye Drops Correctly
- Avoid infection. Wash your hands first. Avoid any contact between the applicator and your skin.
- Strive for ease instead of precision. Eye drops will create a struggle if you try to make a direct hit on your eyeball. Instead, tilt your head back and gently pull down your lower eyelid. That will create a pocket where you can insert a drop with ease. Your doctor or nurse can demonstrate this process for you.
- Maximize the effectiveness of eye drops. After an application of eye drops, close your eyes and press gently on the lower and upper eyelids to help the liquid bathe your eyeballs. This helps keep blinking and exposure to air from drying up the drops you just put in.
Over-the-counter eye drops and simple lifestyle changes are enough to put an end to dry eyes for most people. However, if you experience chronic symptoms, your doctor can advise you on more intensive treatments. Taking care of your eyes will let you live in greater comfort and go on enjoying the activities you love.