At Eyes Focused on You, our primary goal is to provide education to our patients to empower them to take charge of their health and the health of their families. Here, we provide an overview of dry eye, and how to prevent and treat it.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a condition when there is an ineffective tear film on the surface of the eye. Tears are vital to eye health and vision as they lubricate and nourish the eye, wash away foreign matter, help prevent eye infections and provide clear media through which the light travels.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye can impact one or both eyes and can impair our vision and quality of life.
Symptoms can include:
- a feeling of having something in your eye
- an itchy, scratchy, burning or stinging sensation
- eye redness
- pain when wearing contact lenses
- blurred vision
- eye fatigue
- light sensitivity
- unusually watery eyes as the body responds to the irritation dry eye causes
- mucus in or around the eyes
- difficulty driving in the dark
- OR NO SYMPTOMS
Dry eye can also exist without symptoms which means that by the time you are symptomatic your eye can be in a crisis situation. Clearly, it's very important to be proactive and do what you can to prevent this condition. Regular assessments by your optometrist can help determine if your eyes are dry.
How can I prevent dry eye?
Today's dependence on digital screens can contribute to dry eye through eye fatigue and a lack of blinking. If you use devices for long periods of time, follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, blink 20 times and look away 20 feet. Ensure you are getting enough Omega-3 (2,000mg per day), or consider taking a supplement. This is one vitamin difficult to get enough from diet alone. Omega-3 is vital to eye health and our health overall.
Give attention to your eyelids by washing your face daily to remove dirt and makeup and excess sebum (the oil produced by our skin). It's vital that the meibomian glands along the eye lids are not clogged and are free to introduce their own oil into our tears which helps prevent them from evaporating. If this delicate balance of oil and water is upset, our eyes can become dry and respond by weeping and producing mucus.
Avoid cigarette smoke and direct air from car vents and fans. If possible, use a humidifier in your home and place of work to moisten the air around you. Preventative daily use of eye drops containing hyaluronic acid is recommended to keep the eyes moist and comfortable, similar to the way you would hydrate your lips or skin.
Finally, make sure you are well hydrated. When we become dehydrated -- which means more water has been leaving our body than entering it -- critical body functions cannot be properly performed and our health can be quickly compromised. Our eyes can also be impacted by dehydration because they need a certain amount of water to be at their best, just like all of our other organs.
How can I stay properly hydrated?
First, pay attention to your fluid intake. As well, be aware of things that can cause dehydration, such as extreme heat, intense exercise, alcohol consumption, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How can dry eye be treated?
Make sure your eyes are getting enough rest and treat them with eye drops to provide the missing lubrication they need. If dehydration is suspected, drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body. Clogged meibomian glands can be treated with warm compresses placed on closed eye lids to help remove oil and tiny particles of debris. See your optometrist regularly for a comprehensive examination and advice.