Dry eye syndrome, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, can occur at any age, though it is more common as one gets older and can often get more intense as one ages. Diagnosis is usually quite easy from just the symptoms, and once you’ve gotten one from your doctor or optometrist, they may have a list of remedies for you that include commercial eye drops, medication and even surgery. If you are like many people, once you are diagnosed and given a course of treatment, you come home and research what information you can find on the computer. I usually accept the prescription or sample offered and take it home, so that I have it on hand should I need it, but my first choice is a natural or home remedy, if I can find one suitable.
Many things in your environment can be adjusted to help avoid dry eye. A coating on your glasses when they are made can help cut down on glare and eye strain from the computer – especially handy if you spend hours a day on the computer. Taking frequent breaks can also ease eye strain. Be sure not to rub your eyes when they start feeling dry, itchy or tired: this can worsen dry eye.
Remove or cut down on exposure to drying fans, heaters, air conditioners – even hair dryers. If you can’t avoid it completely, try to avoid having it blow right in your eyes. Increasing your water intake can help, as well. Try to drink at least 1 more glass of water than usual. Try to run a humidifier at home and at work to keep moisture in the air – especially in the winter. There are small, personal humidifiers (some can even plug into a USB port) and cool-mist vaporizers that can help keep moisture in the air and help prevent eyes from drying out.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – especially Omega 3 Fatty Acids are excellent at preserving the body’s moisture. Increasing your intake of foods high in EFAs (fatty fish, flaxseed, eggs, chia seeds, etc.) can help keep the eyes from drying out.
Contact lenses can exacerbate dry eye. If you can wear your glasses instead, that can help; if you can’t avoid them much, see if you can wear them as little as possible for 2 weeks to see if that gives you any relief. If they do seem to be a factor, maybe a change of the type you use can help.
Smoke, dust and pollen can aggravate eye dryness as well, so do what you can to avoid those. Again, humidity in the air can help that, as well as good filters on furnaces, air conditioners (if you can’t avoid them) and the vacuum cleaner. Hepa filters are specially designed for dust and allergens, and if these are a big factor in your dry eye, an air purifier may help, as well. Dry eye shadows can put a lot of dust in the eye and some mascaras and eye liners can have irritants, as well. If you use these products regularly, try out cream shadows and natural makeup products to keep the dust & irritants at a minimum.
Avoid over-use of eye drops. Try your natural/home remedies before reaching for that bottle, when you can. Rest your eyes often, looking up from close work, closing them for a minute or two and get a good night’s sleep every night. Keep your diet healthy and keep moisture in your environment and all these should help keep dryness and irritation at bay.
*Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.