Many sufferers feel as though they may be the only one experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye disease, but in fact 30% of Canadians experience symptoms of this chronic condition. There are several treatments your optometrist can recommend to you based on what type of dry eye you have, but there are some therapies you can perform at home that may provide some relief. These therapies are often recommended for the long term by your optometrist in conjunction with in-office procedures so that you maintain and experience the full benefits of treatment and relief from your symptoms
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye disease is a common condition affecting many Canadians. Your tear film helps keep your eyes lubricated, so when something is out of balance or not functioning properly with this mechanism, your eyes can become irritated and sore.
Dry eye disease occurs when your tears cannot provide proper moisture for your eyes due to either inadequate tear production or poor tear quality.
Your dry eyes can be caused by a variety of different factors. Wind, smoke, medication, medical conditions, and regular ageing are all potential causes. A full list of dry eye disease causes includes:
- Medical conditions (allergic eye disease, lupus, Sjorgren’s syndrome)
- Medications (antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants)
- Posterior blepharitis
- Wind, smoke, or dry air
- Eye allergies
- Improper cleansing of eyelids and lash line from cosmetic products
Your optometrist can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and provide a treatment plan for relief. Until then, you can use various home remedies to potentially reduce your symptoms.
5 Home Remedies for Dry Eye Disease
The following are five home remedies for dry eye disease. These will not completely treat your symptoms, but they can provide temporary relief until you can see your optometrist.
Providing your eyes with relief may be as simple as changing your lifestyle if your symptoms are related to irritation from smoke, wind, or dry air. These conditions can cause your tears to evaporate, irritating your eyes.
You can avoid irritation by wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes or by staying inside when it is windy. If you currently smoke, quitting this habit may help your dry eye disease symptoms as well. A humidifier can help when living in drier climates such as Alberta’s as it can prevent your eyes from becoming dry.
Making an eye cleansing routine can help reduce your dry eyes symptoms. Make sure to clean your eyelids properly with lid wipes and use warm compresses to soothe and hydrate your eyes.
There are several non-prescription eye drops (artificial tears) and they may give your dry eyes temporary relief. Eye drops work similarly to the aqueous layer of your tear film. This relief may only last for a short amount of time, and you might have to use artificial tears multiple times throughout the day. Ask your optometrist for preservative free eye drops if you are planning to use drops everyday or multiple times a day.
If you are experiencing consistent dry eye disease symptoms, using artificial tears will not provide long-term relief. A visit to your optometrist can diagnose the potential cause of your dry eyes and provide treatment recommendations.
Optimize Your Workspace
Using the computer for long periods can cause dry eyes because you blink almost 50% less when using digital screens. Blinking allows your eyes to be moisturized by your tears, and less frequent blinking can cause irritation.
If you are on the computer for multiple hours a day, optimizing your workspace may help reduce or prevent dry eye symptoms. You can adjust the room lighting and your monitor brightness to a setting not overly bright or dark. Placing a sticky note on your monitor reminding yourself to blink can help ensure you are blinking frequently.
An effective way to protect your eyes is the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a break from your screen and prevents overuse.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of your health may help with your dry eye disease symptoms. This means staying hydrated and getting enough rest.
Your body needs water to stay healthy and hydrated, and drinking it can help keep your eyes moist. Eight to 10 glasses of water a day can ensure you are properly hydrated.
Getting enough rest is important for your health as well. You should sleep at least seven to eight hours a night to ensure you are well-rested.
Supplement Your Diet
There is research to suggest your diet can help relieve symptoms of dry eye disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body, including your eyes. This allows for greater tear production and quality tears.
You can purchase supplements or eat foods with high contents of omega-3. These foods include:
- Soybean oil
- Ground flaxseed
- Flaxseed oil
- Eggs supplemented with omega-3 fats
These remedies can temporarily reduce your symptoms, but your optometrist can provide you with effective treatments for the underlying causes of your dry eyes. If you’re frequently experiencing dry eye disease symptoms, book an appointment with your optometrist.
Dry eyes can significantly affect your quality of life. It can cause pain and inflammation, and make it difficult to focus throughout your everyday life. If you’re experiencing dry eye disease symptoms, contact your optometrist and find relief for your dry eyes.