A recent National Health and Wellness Survey revealed that about 7% of American adults suffer from Dry Eye Disease (DED), a progressive and chronic condition that prevents the tear glands from producing enough quality tears to keep the eyes lubricated. Per the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), age is the leading cause of DED in the US. Besides age, other risk factors include prolonged exposure to bright screens and poor lifestyle habits, such as smoking. Keeping this in mind, here are six ways to manage and prevent DED.
To prevent dry eyes, stay hydrated. Remember, you don’t have to wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Instead, aim at taking small sips every few minutes to avoid dehydration. For general health benefits, aim for the recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Take note that while drinking water when thirsty is still okay, it may not help relieve your dry eyes because, by the time you feel thirsty, your eyes may already be dry.
Stay in a Humid Environment
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cases of dry eyes usually increase in the winter. This is mainly because wintery conditions cause humidity levels to fall, creating ideal conditions for dry eyes. To deal with this problem, you can install a humidifier in your house to increase your indoor humidity levels. Remember to adjust the humidifier appropriately to prevent the harmful effects of too much humidity.
Wear Blue Light Glasses Whenever Using a Computer
Apart from disrupting the circadian cycle, blue light can also cause eye strain and dry eyes, according to research from Blue Optical. To protect your tear film from drying up, always wear blue light glasses every time you want to use a computer. These glasses have special lenses that block or filter out blue light wavelength from digital devices, protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of this light.
Consume a Diet Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Inflammation in any part of your eye can alter the ability of your tear glands to make enough tears, causing Dry Eye Disease. Additionally, these glands may be unable to mix the right proportions of oils, water, and salt, ingredients that are crucial in the production of healthy tears. The good news is that a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can alleviate inflammation, and therefore, enhance the production of high-quality tears for eye lubrication. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include, among others, fatty fish, soybeans, eggs, and flax seeds. You can also use omega-3 supplements.
Take Regular Eye Breaks
If you’re doing a task that requires visual concentration, say typing a lengthy report on your computer, you should consider taking regular eye breaks. This is because less eye movement can also contribute to dryness. It can be worse if your task involves opening your eyes wide because this increases exposure to air, something that also contributes to dryness. As such, take a few minutes or seconds off to just close your eyes or blink repeatedly to spread tears in your eyes evenly.
Use Eye Drops
Severe dry eye disease may require you to use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes. This is because a simple change of lifestyle habits may not help that much. In such cases, eye drops may come in handy. Don’t wait until your eyes feel dry before using eye drops as they may not be effective. Contrarily, keep adding them every few minutes or hours depending on the severity of your condition. This will not only make you feel better but also prevent the bad effects of dry eyes, which include inflammation of the eye tissues.
To prevent and manage dry eyes, use eye drops, take regular eye breaks, consume foods rich in fatty acids, wear bluelight glasses, and stay hydrated. Take note that chronic dry eye disease could be an indication of an underlying issue, and therefore, you should consult an experienced ophthalmologist in case your condition persists.