You may not think of it as a big deal if you have dry eyes. Maybe you rub your eyes frequently. Maybe your vision gets a bit blurry sometimes. But many people tend to ignore the issue of dry eyes. However, if you suffer from dry eye, here are some facts that may make you reconsider.
Did you know that your cornea has no actual blood vessels? Unlike most other body parts, this transparent, dome-like outer layer that covers the front of your eye relies on tears rather than blood vessels to supply the nutrients and oxygen it requires. The tears also serve to keep your eyes clear of dust and germs which is essential for optimal vision. The result of dry eye can be damage to the cornea and in severe cases it can even lead to permanent vision loss. Corneal ulcers and corneal abrasions are conditions that can result from the lack of a healthy tear film to protect the cornea. This is why it is important to seek treatment if you have insufficient tears and suffer from dry eyes. Here are a few tips you may find useful in caring for your dry eyes.
Sunglasses can help block your eyes from the sun and wind, particularly the wraparound style. Shades can slow the rate of tear evaporation.
When you ride in the car, reposition your air conditioner and heater vents away from your face so that your eyes don’t dry out as quickly.
Use Artificial Tears
You can find artificial tears, or tear supplements, over the counter at your local pharmacy. They come in several different forms such as gels, ointments, and drops. It’s a good idea to select a brand that is free of preservatives, particularly if you find yourself using them multiple times a day.
Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers add moisture to the air. They are helpful in decreasing the evaporation of tears, particularly during the winter months when indoor heating can sap all the moisture from the air in your home.
Limit Screen Time
Blinking helps to lubricate the eyes, but we tend to blink less when we’re staring at a computer screen or reading. It’s important to look away occasionally, blink more often, and take breaks if you’ve been working on the computer or reading for an extended period of time.
Avoid Smoke & Other Irritants
Cigarette smoke can cause further tear evaporation and irritation of the eye, so it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.
Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating foods rich in Omega-3s can help improve the quality of tears produced and reduce inflammation. Flaxseeds, soybeans, canola oil, and walnuts are good sources of these healthy fats. They are also found in abundance in oily fish such as salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines. You might also consider asking your doctor if omega-3 supplements would help.
Discuss with Your Doctor
While these tips may help to reduce the discomfort of dry eyes, you should consult your physician or eye care professional if they don’t help or you experience chronic dry eyes. There are medications they may be able to prescribe to help your condition.