Having dry eyes can be a problem and certainly everyone has experienced this condition on more than one occasion. Sometimes you may feel that there is sand in your eyes when you get that gritty feeling under your eyelids. This can be very uncomfortable and could accompany a stinging and burning sensation in your eyes. Other symptoms you may experience as a result of dry eyes include eye fatigue, redness or sensitivity to light. Some people have even had blurry vision as a result.
If not treated, dry eyes can lead to further complications such as eye infections or inflammation and scarring and ultimately to vision problems.
Medical Causes – This happen when you do not produce enough tears. Tears contribute to the moisture in your eyes. It contains a mixture of water, salt, oils and mucous. In the form of a thin film, the tears are in three layers with the water/salt layer sandwiched between the outer layer of fatty oils also known as lipids and the inner mucous layer. The oil layer is produced by the meibomain glands and if there is not enough produced, then the water layer evaporated too quickly. The water/salt layer is produced by the lacrimal glands.
This combination helps to keep the surface of your eyes moisturized and to protect it from infection. If there is an imbalance in the composition of tears or you do not produce enough, also called keratoconjunctivitis, then it will lead to dry eyes.
Physical Causes – Sometimes however exposure to certain conditions may cause dryness, such as eye strain from looking at a computer for a long time, reading or just being outside in the cold and windy conditions. When this happened I usually notice that I tend to blink more. The involuntary action of blinking usually helps my eyes to produce more tears and therefore reduces the discomfort I feel. Other causes may be from lifestyle choices such as cigarette smoke or drinking too much alcohol.
Medicinal causes – In some case dry eyes may occur if you are taking certain medications to treat for example, high blood pressure or in the case of allergies and colds, with antihistamines or decongestants. The same happens with medications for depression or hormone replacement therapy especially for women over 50.
Remedies – The conventional ones include over-the-counter eyedrops, or antibiotics to reduce inflammation in your eyelid or cornea. The more serious cases may require medical treatments to include partially closing your tear ducts to prevent tears from draining away too quickly or unblocking the oil gland with the new the LipiFlo treatment.
Before you do go to extreme measures, try a few of these other homemade remedies first as it just may be something as simple just needing your glands to produce more tears or protecting your eyes from certain environmental conditions.
Blinking helps to produce more tears – Take a break from reading or working on the computer and allow your eyes to recover by blinking several times so that the glands can produce and spread more tears to the surface of your eyes.
Protect your eyes from the wind – Use sunglasses when outside or if you are near fans or vents from heating or air conditioners, turn them away from your eyes. The wind causes evaporation of the water layer of your tear film leading to dry eyes. Protecting your eyes from drying out by placing a barrier over your eyes and keeping the wind away will certainly help. For those of you that wear helmets when riding motorcycles, choose the ones that also cover your eyes.
Try a warm compress – Use a warm wet washcloth over your eyelids and leave there for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will help unplug the opening of the glands on your eyelids so that tears can be produced in the right composition.
Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet – Studies have shown that people who consume high levels of omega-3 as part of a healthy diet had a lower chance of inflammation of the glands which produce tears. This significantly decreases the chances having dry-eyes. Try adding foods such as salmon, fish oil supplements, walnuts, dark green leafy vegetables and flaxseeds which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
Fennel Seed Tea – Boil a mixture of water and fennel seeds to make a tea. Use cotton pads soaked in the tea and apply to your eyelids and let it sit there for at least 10 minutes. This will help to add moisture to your eyes.
Chamomile Tea – The leaves are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties. Add chamomile teabags into a cup of hot water to make a tea. Allow it to cool and then dip cotton balls into the tea and apply to your eyelids. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
Sleep – Finally, for those of you that get dry eyes because of long days or nights awake, be sure that you are properly hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water and my favorite….get some sleep!! Allow your eyes a break so they can lubricate themselves and be prepared for another day.