Millions of people all over the world suffer from what is commonly called ‘dry eye' syndrome. Prevalence is increasing due to air conditioning, poor diets, urban pollution and neglect of eye-care.
Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and irritating, and can increase the risk of infections.
Sometimes treatments such as artificial tears may get contaminated after opening increasing the risk of infection. Over the counter eye drops often have hidden side effects, can cause allergies and may only offer temporary relief.
Prevention is always better than treatment. Dry eyes can become red and inflamed and have an unsightly appearance.
This article examines simple tips for preventing eyes becoming dry and offers some natural remedies that are worth a try.
Having healthy eyes is part of being healthy, though eyes are often neglected.
The cause of eye discomfort and general problems may be 'dry eye' without you being aware of it.
Symptoms of 'dry eye' generally include:
► Blurred vision, that is relieved by blinking or tear drops
► Burning, stinging, or a gritty feeling in one or both eye
► Decreased tolerance of long-term eye-intense activities such as reading or working at computer monitors
► Discharge from the eye and 'crystal' deposits in the corner of the eyes
► Discomfort caused by contact lenses
► Eye fatigue
► Itchiness around the eyes
► Redness of the eyes not caused by conjunctivitis
► Sensitivity to light
► Sensitivity to temperature changes
The common advice is for people to continuously use artificial tears or other eye drops. However, these medications are designed for short term treatments rather than long term prevention strategies. There may be side effects with long term use, and the chemicals they contain may cause eye damage. The drops can become contaminated and a major source of infection.
A far better strategy is to identify the potential cause of the dryness and to do some simple things to keep eyes well hydrated.
► Air conditioning and heating
► Car exhaust fumes and urban pollution
► Cigarette smoke
► Drinking alcoholic beverages that can dehydrate the body.
► Heavy and prolonged use of the eyes in watching computer and video screens, office work without a break, causing eye strain and irritation
► Improper and infrequent washing around the eyes and general eye-care.
► Many environmental factors also contribute to eye dryness such as harsh winds, dust, pollution, bright sunlight and low humidity.
► Medications such as tranquilizers, antihistamines, decongestants, and even birth control pills can cause dryness of the eyes.
► Sudden changes of temperature when moving from outside, to inside houses and office
► Tears that are inadequate in volume or composition (water, fatty acids, mucus).
► Various ailments and diseases also cause eye dryness, such as rheumatoid arthritis and menopause.
Increase the humidity in homes and offices - Placing bowls of water near air-conditioners and heaters can help. You may need to install humidifiers in your home
Minimize Time Spent in Dusty and Hot Drying Winds - If you are prone to dry eyes, these conditions need to be avoided. You can also use good quality non-medicated eye drops before entering these environments, with frequent re-application as needed.
Swap plant based omega oils for traditional fish oils - Plant based omega oils derived from primrose. borage, and flax oils will give more health benefits to your eyes
Improve your diet to include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and organics -Processed foods contain many additives and chemicals that are harmful for eyes and affect the hydration of the body. Getting adequate vitamins and antioxidants can help keep your eyes healthy and maintain your natural tears and eye lubrication.
Keep Well hydrated -Drinking lots of plain water each day can stop any dehydration developing. Tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages can all cause dehydration.
Blink Slowly and More Often - Blinking keeps the eye surfaces moist and covered with a protective film of mucus. People who concentrate hard watching computer screens often forget to blink or delay blinking to avoid distractions Practice having mini breaks and slowly opening and closing your eyes in a more deliberate fashion. This provides more time for the blink to moisten and lubricate your eyes. Blinking and tears supply oxygen to the eye, and help remove dust and other substances that may cause irritation.
Take Frequent Breaks when Working on Computer Screens or other Activities likely to cause Eye Strain - taking more breaks is one of the best strategies for those who use their eyes intensely over long periods of time.
Avoid Second Hand Smoke and Urban Environments Prone to Dust and Exhaust Fumes - Always were goggles or use eye drops before engaging in dusty activities such as cleaning, vacuuming, sanding, painting and general renovations.
Ensure Adequate Ventilation and Air Flow - Dust and fumes can accumulate and ventilation will prevent this. This includes smoke and fumes from cooking, especially frying and barbecues.
Wearing Sunglasses that fit Close to your Face whenever you go Outdoors -Strong sunlight and glare can cause eyestrain, and can dehydrate your eyes and damage them. Close fitting glasses help stop dust and provide better UV protection.
Use Mild Artificial Tears to Soothe Dry Eyes, Not Medicated Eye Drops - Simple, good quality artificial tears are a good remedy and can prevent dry eyes. But avoid long term use of medicated eye drops. Also beware of drops with strong preservative ingredients. Once opened drops should only be used for a day or so.