One of the most common eye issues is that of dry eyes. Given our digital lifestyles, this eye problem is on the rise. But there is hope and dry eye syndrome can be prevented with a little bit of self-care. This World Sight Day, we tell you how to #LoveYourEyes.
Let’s take a look at this ultimate guide to dry eyes which can help you combat dryness and to keep your eyes healthy and happy!
What Is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye is a disease that affects everyone as they age. It affects the surface of the eye which makes it uncomfortable for you to see clearly.
At the surface of our eyes, there are many parts that work together to keep our eyes healthy. The muscles, nerves, glands, tear ducts, connective tissue are the parts that keep our eyes moist. While women are more susceptible to contract dry eyes than men, today, however, eye dryness is becoming increasingly common in younger people. This is mainly due to the increased screen use like smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Those who develop dry eyes can experience problems with daily activities like reading, watching television, using the computer and mobile phones, dealing with work, and driving.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Eyes?
The symptoms of dry eyes vary from person to person. Listed below are the most common symptoms.
Common Dry Eye Symptoms
- Sore eyes
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to wind and smoke
- Irritated eyes
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Eye fatigue
- Pain while blinking
- Watery eyes
Some of these symptoms arise regularly, and others occur intermittently. Depending on whether you’re mostly indoors or outdoors, your symptoms may vary drastically. For example, if you’re someone who spends the majority of your day outdoors, you may experience symptoms like sensitivity to wind and smoke, irritation in the eyes, and watering. On the other hand, a person spending all day indoors, perhaps in front of a screen, may face symptoms like soreness, blurry vision, and even eye fatigue.
Are Tears Really That Important?
Yes. Tears play an essential role in protecting and keeping your eyes healthy. You might be surprised to know that tears of joy and sadness are not the only kinds of tears we experience. In fact, there are three types of tears — basal tears, reflex tears, and emotional tears.
Basal tears spearhead all the other tears. They serve as the primary protection of the eye.
Reflex tears are responsible for flushing away harmful things from the eyes when it comes in contact with things like dust, fumes and other harmful irritants.
Emotional tears are tears formed in response to emotions like sadness, joy, anger, or fear
What keeps our eyes healthy and nourished is the right amount and quality of these tears, and whether they lubricate our eyes or not. Every time you blink, a protective film of basal tears spreads over the surface of your eye. Hence, it is important that you blink as often as you can throughout your day, especially if you’re working in front of screens.
What Are The Causes Of Dry Eyes?
There are two main causes of dry eye syndrome:
- Rapid evaporation of tears caused by a deficiency in the oil layer (Evaporative Dry Eye or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction)
- Reduction of the number of tears produced by the glands (Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye).
Often, there is overlap between these two main causes of dry eyes. Several factors can affect tear production or the condition of the eye in general. Dry eyes can result from many factors that including but are not limited to:
Dry Eye Causes
- Incomplete blinking
- Cosmetics and skincare
- Eyelid problems
- Recent eye procedures like LASIK
- Environmental conditions
Self-Care Tips To Prevent Dry Eyes
If you’re looking to avoid contracting dry eyes, here are a few important tips for dry eye treatment to consider:
- Avoid staring at your computer for a long duration — blink as often as you can, make a conscious effort to rest your eyes at regular intervals, such as every 20 minutes or so.
- Remove your eye makeup like eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow at the end of your day thoroughly. Check the ingredients on your makeup carefully, see what works for you and what does not. A few ingredients like Paraffin, Butylene Glycol, Polybutene, Aminomethyl Propanol, and Phenoxyethanol are highly toxic and can damage the surface of your eyes.
- Shut your eyes properly while sleeping. This might sound like a bizarre tip to give away but most of us fail to tightly shut our eyes when sleeping, and this leads to air exposure and dryness. Avoid it by using silicone eye masks which prevent evaporation overnight.
- Invest in a humidifier for your home or workplace to add moisture to the air.
- Avoid over-wearing your contact lenses and always keep them clean. Wearing daily disposable lenses to prevent bacterial buildup is a great way to keep your eyes clean and fresh!
Diet And Supplements For Dry Eye Prevention
Eating healthy ensures your eyes get the vitamins and minerals they need. To protect your vision, improve overall eye health and relieve your dry eyes symptoms, you may want to start adding vital nutrients to your diet.
It’s easy to say, but keeping your hydration levels up can help improve the comfort of your eyes. It’s great for your skin, bowels, kidneys, and your eyes. Pro-tip: Opt for coconut water to start your day!
• Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish, leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, soybeans, nuts, and seeds are good sources of omega-3s. Fish oil and flaxseed oil supplements may also help. Do note, omega 3 fatty acids are essential to keep your meibomian glands secreting enough oil to keep your eyes moist.
• Vitamin D
Working indoors? It’s understandable that you’re not getting enough Vitamin D. Not only can this affect your bones, it can also affect your eyes. New studies show that Vitamin D supplementation like cholecalciferol can improve the effectiveness of artificial tears on the eyes.
• Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency can increase the severity of dry eyes. Add foods rich in Vitamin A to your diet, like carrots, fortified skim milk and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Eye drops with vitamin A can also be an effective treatment for dry eyes.
A healthy well-balanced diet and regular exercise go a long way in maintaining the health of your eyes and your body. But remember, it’s always best to consult your doctor or healthcare professional especially before taking any supplements. They know what’s best for your health.