10 Ways to Avoid Dry Eyes
Most of us will have suffered from dry eyes at some point in our lives. It is a common condition that unfortunately affects many people around the globe and can ultimately cause discomfort, redness and irritation! Dry eye syndrome, a subject we have discussed at length in some of our previous blog posts, is usually due to insufficient production of tears or poor tear quality, leading to a lack of lubrication for your eyes. There are numerous potential causes for dry eyes, including aging, certain medical conditions, medications, and even environmental factors. Here are 10 ways you can avoid dry eyes:
Drinking enough water throughout the day is essential for not only your eye health but actual overall health. Proper hydration will help you maintain your body's natural balance, including the production of tears, which can help prevent dry eyes. You should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, or more, depending on your activity level and individual needs of course.
Use a Humidifier
Dry indoor air, especially during the winter months, is one of the leading culprits of dry eyes. Using a humidifier in your home or office or wherever you spend most of your day can help maintain a more comfortable humidity level, which would then promote a healthier tear film and reduce your risk of dry eyes. Aim for a humidity level of around 40% to 50%.
Blink Regularly and Practice the 20-20-20 Rule
When you focus on a task, be it working on a computer or reading, you will tend to blink less frequently, which contributes to dry eyes. To keep your eyes moist, remember to blink regularly throughout the day. Additionally, practice the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes you should take a 20-second break to look at something that’s 20 feet away. This technique is really simple but really works to help reduce eye strain and promote tear production.
Adjust Your Computer Setup
If you spend long hours working on a computer your screen setup may need readjusting as it may be contributing to your dry eyes. Position your screen just a tad below eye level, which can encourage more frequent blinking and reduce your tear evaporation. Also, consider using a glare-reducing screen protector or adjusting your screen brightness which will help you minimise eye strain.
Use Artificial Tears
Over-the-counter artificial tears can provide temporary relief for dry eyes by supplementing your natural tear film. Use these lubricating eye drops as needed throughout the day to maintain moisture and reduce irritation. However, you should avoid overusing drops containing preservatives, as will most likely exacerbate your dry eyes with frequent use. Consult your eye care professional for recommendations on the best type of artificial tears for your needs.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can support overall health which includes eye health and help you prevent having dry eyes in the first place. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and seeds, have been shown to improve the function of the meibomian glands, which produce the oily component of tears. Consuming a diet that includes omega-3s, along with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help promote a healthy tear film and reduce the risk of dry eyes.
Protect Your Eyes Outdoors
Environmental factors, such as wind and sun, can contribute to dry eyes. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that provide full UV protection and have wraparound or wide frames to shield your eyes from the wind. Additionally, avoiding direct exposure to air conditioning or heating vents can help prevent the drying effect of having forced air blasting on your eyes. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also offer extra protection against both the sun and wind.
Manage Underlying Conditions
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders, can increase the risk of dry eyes. If you have an underlying health issue, work with your healthcare provider to manage your condition effectively, which may help alleviate dry eye symptoms. Similarly, some medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and even antidepressants, can cause or exacerbate dry eyes. If you suspect your medication may be contributing to your dry eye symptoms, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options.
Practice Good Eye Hygiene
Maintaining good eye hygiene can help prevent dry eyes and other eye-related issues. Regularly clean your eyelids and the area around your eyes with a gentle cleanser to remove debris and bacteria that can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Don’t touch your eyes with dirty hands, it will most likely introduce bacteria and irritants. If you wear makeup, ensure you remove it thoroughly each night and replace your makeup products regularly to minimise the risk of infection.
Consider Professional Dry Eye Treatments
If your dry eye symptoms persist despite implementing the strategies we mentioned above, you should consult your eye care professional to discuss additional treatment options. These may include prescription eye drops or procedures such as LipiFlow or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy. Your eye care professional will recommend the most suitable treatment based on the cause and severity of your dry eyes.
Dry eyes can be uncomfortable but by implementing the above suggestions outlined above, you can take steps to prevent and alleviate your symptoms. If you use contact lenses, here are the best lenses for dry eyes. Staying hydrated, using a humidifier, good eye hygiene, and managing underlying conditions are just a few of the ways you can help promote a healthy tear film. If you continue to experience dry eye symptoms despite these efforts, consult your eye care professional to discuss further treatment options tailored to your individual needs.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 2 Jun 2023, Last modified: 7 Jun 2023