Dry eye disease is a common condition where the tears don’t provide adequate lubrication for the eyes. Numerous adults aged 21 and older in the United States suffer from a chronic stinging or burning sensation resulting from dry eye disease. Although no cure currently exists, certain treatments, lifestyle changes, and home remedies can provide relief.
At the Dry Eye Institute of St. Louis, we work to ensure each patient receives relief from their dry eye symptoms. If the issue persists, our specialists will determine the root cause and recommend the best treatment so you can continue doing what you love. Schedule an appointment today to get started.
Dry Eye Prevention Strategies
Change Your Environment
If you experience dry eyes, pay close attention to the environments that are most likely to cause your symptoms and seek ways to avoid them. Environmental factors play a key role for many individuals suffering from dry eye disease. Certain steps can be taken to reduce environmentally-caused dry eye symptoms, including:
- Avoid air blowing into the eyes. Don’t direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners, or fans toward your eyes.
- Stop smoking and avoid smoke. Cigarette smoke can greatly worsen dry eye symptoms.
- Be aware of your environment. The air in high altitudes, deserts, and airplanes can be extremely dry. If you find yourself spending time in those environments, close your eyes frequently to prevent your tears from evaporating.
- Try to stay inside when it’s windy. Not only does the wind blow dry air, but particles of dust and debris can be transported as well, making symptoms worse.
Be Cautious with Screen Time
For many adults in the United States, prolonged screen time is inevitable. Whether you’re working at a computer for eight hours a day, binge watching your favorite television show, or scrolling through social media on your smartphone, your eyes will likely become dry. As you concentrate on a screen, your blink rate plummets, resulting in reduced tear production. To ensure your eyes receive the proper amount of moisture during screen time, perform the following:
- Position your computer screen below eye level. When your computer screen is angled above eye level, your eyes widen while viewing. However, if your screen is below eye level, your eyes won’t open as wide, and doing so may help slow tear evaporation between blinks.
- Follow the 20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent viewing a screen, look away for 20 seconds. Doing so allows you to blink more, as well as avoid dry eyes and strain.
Home Remedies for Dry Eyes
In addition to monitoring your environment and screen time, there are a few home remedies you can try to relieve your dry eye symptoms. They include:
- Supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids. The fat found in omega-3 acids reduces inflammation in the body and may help reduce inflammation in the eyes, allowing for more tear production as well as higher quality tears. You can either supplement with a vitamin or tablet, or eat foods rich in omega-3, such as fatty fish, nuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Switch out your contacts more often. Those who wear contacts as their main form of correcting vision are at higher risk for dry eye disease. Be sure to stick with your contact cleaning routine, as well as allow your eyes to rest by wearing glasses instead for a few days.
- Use warm compresses. Inflamed eyelids can clog the oil-making glands along the edge of your lid, leading to dry eyes. To help relieve your symptoms, wet a clean washcloth with warm water and place it over your closed eye for at least one minute. The moist heat will help release the clogged oil.
- Stay hydrated. Every part of your body needs water to thrive, including your eyes. Staying hydrated allows them to remain moist. Aim to drink at least eight to ten cups of water each day.
- Replace your furnace filter and use a humidifier. During the winter months, your furnace blows dry, warm air into your home. Not only does the dry air increase the amount of static electricity, but it also adds strain to your eyes. Replacing your furnace filter will help trap the dust particles, and adding a humidifier will raise the moisture levels in the air.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses. The safety shields added to the top and sides of sunglasses serve as a form of protection against dry air and the particles within it.
- Add artificial tears and ointments. Over the counter artificial tears (eye drops) and ointments can lubricate the eyes. Drops provide more short-term relief, while ointments are better for the long-term. Be sure to follow the instructions when using.
Need More Tips on How to Avoid Dry Eyes?
Although dry eye disease is a common condition, individual root causes differ from one to the next, and some treatments work better for some than others. At the Dry Eye Institute of St. Louis, we work closely with manufacturers and therefore receive priority access to new medications and treatments. We will work with you to explain your specific condition and create a treatment plan that’s suited to your needs. If you struggle with dry eye symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bourn today. We look forward to helping you!