What I do When I Have Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are very uncomfortable. I put it right up there with dry itchy skin. So just as I am careful with my skin care routine, I’m also kind to those peepers that let me see. After all, I have only two of them, they’ve worked very hard over the last decades, and if I mess them up, I don’t get new ones.
Why I Take Dry Eyes Seriously
Dry eyes aren’t just uncomfortable. They’re suffering from a problem that can place them at risk of much bigger problems. These include everything from scratches to blurred vision, infection and a whole lot worse. Vision problems from nothing more than dryness are not uncommon.
Dry eyes happen when tears aren’t doing enough to keep the area wet. This might be because you’re not producing enough tears, or it could be that – like me – you’re prone to staring (at screens, mainly, but also at other tasks that require a lot of focus) and don’t blink enough. Just using a computer, phone or TV means that you are more than likely not blinking enough, so your tears aren’t being distributed over the surface of your eye before they’re evaporated away into the room.
Symptoms and Risks
Symptoms of dry eyes you should watch for (as is my understanding. I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take this as a medical recommendation. Talk to your optometrist!) include the following:
- A scratchy feeling or as though there is something in your eye like dust or an eyelash (when you can’t find anything in there)
- Burning, stinging or itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
Absolutely anyone can get dry eyes, but women, people over the age of 50 years, and people who don’t consume enough vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids are at the highest risk, as are contact lens wearers and people with autoimmune conditions. I don’t wear contacts or have an autoimmune disease I am aware of. I do get enough vitamin A because I take a wonderful vision supplement that contains it. That said, I can’t help the fact that I am a woman, and I am over 50, so certain risks for me are just built in. By having quite a bit of screen time, it doesn’t help the situation.
How I Treat My Dry Eyes
Based on my optometrist’s instructions, the following are how I treat my dry eyes. Keep in mind that the dryness can be caused by many things, so what works for me might not be the same as what works for you. I really do recommend talking to your optometrist for personalized recommendations.
- Over the counter hydration drops (not anti-redness drops. They make things worse!). I use the drops (artificial tears) during the daytime and on very dry days, I use a lubricating eye gel overnight.
- I take an eye health supplement. It’s not for dryness, but it does contain that vitamin A I need for my vision health (among other ingredients and nutrients) so it just helps as a side benefit.
- I try to remember to look away from my screen and stare into the distance, blinking, for 20 seconds before looking back at my screen again.
- I do my best to limit staring without blinking, whenever I’m conscious of it.
- I wear big sunglasses when I’m outside. Yes, eyes can get sunburned and yes, it feels like dry eyes and is very uncomfortable. I’m speaking from experience, unfortunately.
- I drink lots of water every day.
- I do my best to get sleep at night. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that it’s an important topic in my life.
Here is a useful video with some more tips you might find handy: