The Canadian National Institute for the Blind estimates that approximately 30% of Canadians experience dry eye. Dry eye is a condition when your eye doesn’t make enough tears, or when your tears evaporate more quickly than normal. Keeping your tear film — a thin covering the ocular surface — lubricated is important to facilitate your 11,500 daily blinks and to protect the nerves of your cornea. What are the symptoms of dry eye? Redness, pain, stinging or burning eyes, and a scratchy sensation.
Dry eye is caused by a lack of lubricating tears as well as some medical conditions, environmental factors, and is even a side effect of several common types of medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medication, oral contraceptives, acne medication, and antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Dry eye management near you is possible with some at home remedies, but persistent dry eye should be brought to the attention of an eye specialist near you to identify the specific cause or risk factors that may require adjustment.
As you wash your face, clean your upper and lower eyelids gently using warm water and an eyelid cleanser or baby shampoo. If you wear makeup, take particular care to remove it thoroughly so it does not get into your tear film where it will act as an irritant.
Being constantly connected and looking continuously at computer screens, smartphones, and televisions can contribute to dry eye in several ways, including by reducing your blink rate or preventing complete blinks. You can reduce dry eye by taking breaks from staring at screens to rest your eyes.
Blink more often, and do so deliberately and forcefully — no matter how unusual that looks. If you want a more natural-looking strategy, try this exercise every 20 minutes and 20 times a day: close your eyes normally for two seconds, then open them; then, close your eyes normally again for two seconds, then squeeze your eyelids together for two seconds before opening them.
Increase your intake of Omega-3 oils said to improve the function of tear-producing glands by increasing the amount of the following foods you eat: salmon, tuna, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and palm and soybean oils.
Increase your intake of three vitamins that have been linked to dry eye and eye health generally: Vitamin D, B12, and A.
Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, since excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to dehydration generally and dry eye syndrome specifically.
If you smoke, you expose your eyes to over 7,000 chemicals contained in cigarette smoke that can irritate your eyes and change the composition of the tears that you do produce. You can improve your eye health and the incidence of dry eye by quitting smoking and avoiding environments with heavy smoking.
Hydrate. By this, we don’t mean splashing your eyes with water. We mean that you should drink more water. Good bodily hydration is essential to tear production that keeps your eyes clear of debris. How much is enough? Eight to ten glasses of water every day is ideal.
If you use eye drops, choose them carefully. Avoid eye drops that contain preservatives, especially if you’re using eye drops that are administered more than four times a day. Choose an eye drop that is preservative-free, and one that is specifically formulated for dry eyes. For longer-lasting relief, try lubricating gels or ointments before going to sleep.
Change your environment to avoid low humidity, high winds, heat, smoke, dust, and air conditioning. Here are some environmental changes that can help reduce dry eye: use a cool mist humidifier, use filters to block allergens, and keep windows closed.
At home remedies like these may offer temporary or partial relief of dry eye. If your dry eye persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other symptoms, contact an eye specialist near you for their advice and support, and to rule out more serious conditions.