Dry Eye Treatment: Top 5 Tips for Dry Eye Relief
Tis’ the season for dry eyes. As fall brings a dip in humidity and dry,crisp air, so too comes dry eyes and irritation. It may not be the underlying cause, but it certainly does not help.
Fortunately, there are some easy dry eye treatments that may provide relief for the irritation you are experiencing.
Dry eye is a condition where tears do not provide appropriate lubrication for the eyes. What are the causes? The reasons are varied and related to the amount and quality of the tears you produce. Some people don’t produce enough tears. For others, the components of their tears are out of balance. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same. It can lead to inflammation and could damage the surface of the eye if left unresolved for too long. But, understanding why you are having this issue will help your healthcare team understand how to treat it.
You have been asking us all the good questions about dry eyes. So, we put together a quick guide based on the top 5 most asked questions. Read on for more about dry eye treatment.
1: What causes dry eyes?
There are several reasons you might have dry eyes. One reason is due to decreased tear production.
One of the most common reasons for dry eye is decreased tear production, because there are many conditions that lead to reduced production. Aging is one of the biggest factors, but certain medical condition like autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease and vitamin A deficiency can also lead to dry eye. In fact, even certain medications like blood pressure medicine, antihistamines, and birth control can play a role. A common contributor is corneal nerve damage, which can occur with contact use. With the number of people now using contacts on the rise, it’s something to be aware of if you are experiencing symptoms.
Increased tear evaporation can also lead to dry eye. This is due to clogged eye glands that cause the tear you produce to evaporate. The gland itself can become clogged because of physical damage to the eye leading to less oil production from the gland.
Simply blinking less often can contribute. Often, lifestyle factors can reduce this simple, but necessary function. Watching TV, reading, driving and computer work will reduce the number of blinks you normally take. If done for long periods – like binge watching Netflix – can lead to a decrease in oil production.
Other triggers include eye lid movement issues, eye allergies, eye drops with preservatives, wind, smoke, dry air and vitamin A deficiency.
2: Simple Home Remedies for Dry Eye?
It is always best to see your doctor to determine what may be causing dry eye. Treating the underlying condition will often provide substantial relief and eliminate the problem from returning.
At home, dry eye treatment:
Nonprescription products are available OTC and can provide significant relief until your doctor can determine the root cause.
At home, using OTC preservative-free eye drops can be helpful temporarily. If possible, use single use vials to avoid contamination.
Ointment is also available, but it does cause significant cloudy vision. Ointment is best used at night if necessary.
For those that may have conditions that cause eyelid inflammation or block the flow of oil production from the gland, gentle eye washing may help. Warm compresses followed by gently cleansing with baby soap or mild cleanser on the eyelash area. Rinse thoroughly with water and gently massage the area. You can do this in the shower for convenience.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce dry eye symptoms. Foods like salmon, ground flaxseed and sardines are great food sources. A high-quality omega-3 supplement may be the way to go if you want to regularly include omega-3s in your diet. Regardless of whether you choose food or a supplement, intake of dietary omega-3s will have the added benefit of helping you absorb other fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D. These vitamins can be beneficial in the treatment of the underlying conditions that lead to dry eye. Talk to your doctor about taking in more Omega-3s for eye care prevention and treatment.
It is worth noting that treating redness from dry eyes with red eye drops continually can actually cause more irritation, so these products are typically not recommended to those with dry eyes.
3: Dry Eyes at Night?
Nothing is more annoying that trying to sleep with dry eyes. If you are experiencing dry eyes when you sleep, it could be because you are not producing the same volume of tears (often seen as we age), your oil glands are not lubricating your eye or you are not closing your eyes completely at night. It could also be due to an external irritant like your AC that is causing issues or increased screen time before bed leading to decreased blinking.
As we have discussed, understanding what is causing your dry eyes will give you the best start in forming a plan to resolve this issue altogether. Medications and simple procedures may be necessary dry eye treatments depending on the cause, However, it may take some time to get in with your doctor.
In the meantime, prepping your eyes before you go to sleep could help to significantly reduce discomfort from dry eyes at night.
First, turn off your screens or use audible instead of reading a physical book in bed. This may be a difficult leap, but it might also help reduce eye irritation. Take a shower or use warm compresses to stimulate oil production and increased lubrication in the 20 minutes before bedtime. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but breathing techniques can prep your body for sleep. It does more than shut off the mind. There is substantial research to support breathing rituals. It can lead to appropriate hormonal shifts that metabolically readies your body for sleep. That can lead to an overall more comfortable sleep experience. After prepping, consider adding preservative-free drops or ointment as necessary right before sleep.
4: Dry Eyes with Contacts?
If you are experiencing dry eyes with contacts, it may be because your contacts are not the right fit for you. But aren’t all contacts the same? The simple answer is no. And finding the right contact can play a big part of your dry eye treatment plan. These days there are many contacts on the market. With so many offerings, your doctor should be able to get you into a better fit for your needs.
Finding a contact that actually fits your eye, meaning your eye shape, is the first step. A well-trained optometrist should be able to help you navigate this easily. After that, you may need contacts that are developed to keep in moisture. There are a variety of levels of moisture retaining contacts, but starting with a basic moisture-locking daily may be all you need to feel relief. This doesn’t mean that changing your contact type will be a solution to an underlying condition, but it can help you find balance while working through the root issue.
If you simply can’t find an effective moisture locking contact, then you may need to reduce the length of time you spend in contacts. Using glasses can be a simple fix, but it is not for everyone. If so, try a combination of at home therapies including warm compresses, eye drops and omega-3s, in addition to finding the right contact. These simple changes can make a huge difference.
5: Dry Eyes: Allergies?
It is easy to confuse dry eyes with allergies. In both, you can experience redness and burning. However, the telltale sign of allergies is itchiness and swelling. Allergies of the eye effect about 20% of the American population. Airborne pollutants like pollen, animal dander, dust mite feces and mold can trigger this response.
In this scenario, the best dry eye treatment plan is to eliminate exposure to these triggers if possible. There are great air purifiers on the market these days if you cannot eliminate them completely. Simply washing your hands and not rubbing your eyes can help. Preservative-free eye drops can help wash away the allergen in the eye.
If it is a true allergy, your doctor will be able to help you navigate medicated eye drops and antihistamine use. For allergic conjunctivitis that is severe, you may need a corticosteroid under the guidance of an ophthalmologist.
Personalizing Dry Eye Relief
Tailoring your strategy to eliminate dry eye based on your specific needs is important. OTC remedies can help relieve discomfort significantly, but getting to the root cause is ultimately the goal. Navigating which products are the best for you is difficult – and that’s where Vitamin & Me comes in. Chat with our team members to help you navigate your intake or take a customized vitamin quiz that matches you with vitamins that meet your specific needs. There are countless options on the market. So, talk to your doctor about the best strategy then leave the guesswork to us. We offer a range of high quality eye vitamins that help with dry eye relief.
What other questions do you have? Reach out to us at @vitaminandme and we will post or share.