Dry eyes can be irritating and seriously affect your quality of life adversely. While seeing an eye doctor for proper diagnosis and management is essential, here are a few tips which may help you manage your symptoms and feel more comfortable.
Use tear supplements:
Dry eyes result from either a deficiency in the quantity, or quality of tears. Your natural tears soothe your eyes every time you blink, and also protect your eyes from infections and allergy causing agents.
Artificial tear eye drops or tear supplements mimic your natural tears and help soothe dryness and soreness of the eyes. Most tear supplements are available over the counter, but you must choose one which is preservative free, and from a reliable brand. It is a good idea to ask your doctor for a prescription of the same as well.
In case you have to use a thicker gels or ointment in addition to the tear drops, use them before bed because they may cause a transient blurring of vision.
Change your diet
Omega-3 fatty acids may help dry eye in some people by improving the function of glands that secrete the oily layer of the tear film. You can add more fatty fish like tuna or salmon, or flax seeds and walnuts to your diet. You may also ask your doctor for an oral dietary supplement of omega 3 fatty acids.
In case your meibomian glands are inflamed or blocked, (these are the oil glands at the edge of your lids which secrete the oily layer of your tear film) hot fomentation can really help your dry eyes. Your doctor may advise an eye massage in addition to the hot compresses. In case of inflammation, your doctor will also advice lid hygiene with baby shampoo, or special eye lid wipes, in addition to eye ointments.
Add moisture in your environment
Using a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air, especially when using heaters or air conditioning may help soothe your dry eyes. You may also choose to wear large, wraparound sunglasses when outdoors. These measures help in decreasing the rate of evaporation of your tears, and in relieving dry eye symptoms.
Monitor your screen time
Using your computer, smartphone, or tablet for long hours can cause dry eyes and Computer Vision Syndrome. The two rules to follow when using any screen device are:
Think and blink: Blink more consciously and often so as to redistribute the tear film over the surface of the eye. In fact, the rate of blinking decreases when you are focusing on a bright screen, which usually is the cause of the dry eye.
20/20/20 rule: Close your eyes for twenty seconds every 20 minutes, and look at something 20 feet away. This helps the eye muscles relax, and also redistributes the tear film over the eyes, making you more comfortable. This is especially recommended for all IT professionals and people who spend more than three to four hours with a screen device.
Change your contact lenses
In case you are a contact lens user, your doctor may advise a different kind of contact lens to soothe your eyes, or ask you to reduce the duration of contact lens wear. He or she may suggest special preservative free eye drops to be used with your contact lenses. Generally, daily disposable soft contact lenses are the most comfortable alternative. However, in case your symptoms persist, your doctor may ask you to discontinue contact lens use for some time, in order to restore the health of your ocular surface and treat the dry eyes.
See your eye doctor
Most important of all, is to consult your doctor in case your symptoms persist despite taking the appropriate precautions and following these dry eye tips. This is because dry eyes can be secondary to serious diseases as well. Also, more importantly, your doctor can actually prescribe eye drops which can identify and treat the underlying cause of dry eyes.
Dry eyes can result in severe functional and vision disability if not treated appropriately and on time. It is therefore more sensible to schedule an eye examination with your ophthalmologist, than to suffer from sore and dry eyes.