As soon as we wake up, we use our eyes before we use any other sense organs. Even during sleep our eyes are continuously moving, so much so that by the end of the day what we get is tired eyes.
Eyes get nourishment from the tears, in fact, 70% of the nutrition to the eyes is through the tears. Hence it is necessary for the eyes to have enough water or lubrication for proper nutrition, thereby preventing tiredness of the eyes.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Poor tear quality. The tear film has three basic layers: oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes symptoms.
Decreased tear production. Dry eyes can occur when you’re unable to produce enough tears. You may not produce enough tears if you are older than 50, a postmenopausal woman, or you have had a laser surgery etc.
Medications that cause dry eyes. Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, antihistamines and decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, certain antidepressants, isotretinoin-type drugs for treatment of acne also can cause dry eyes.
Eyelid problems. Blinking spreads a continuous thin film of tears across the surface of your eyes. If you have an eyelid problem that makes it difficult to blink, tears may not be spread across your eye adequately or your tears may evaporate too quickly, causing dry eyes. Eyelid problems can include an out-turning of the lids (ectropion) or an in-turning of the lids (entropion).
Any trauma to the eye, including burns.
Dry eyes can also be the result of inflammation in the lachrymal glands. A vicious cycle follows in that the eye irritated by dry eyes, can over stimulate the nerve fibers of the lachrymal glands which causes further lachrymal gland inflammation due to its over stimulation and thus reducing the tear formation.
Proper Treatments for Dry Eyes
Effective treatment of dry eyes requires a careful examination to determine which factor is causing the symptoms. The main aim of the treatment is to keep the eyes moist. The initial treatment for dry eyes is usually the use of demulcent eye drops or artificial tears. These lubricate the eyes, and relieve the symptoms.
Sometimes it is necessary to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This may be done temporarily with a dissolving plug that is inserted into the tear drain of the lower eyelid to determine whether permanent plugs can provide an adequate supply of tears.
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is the most commonly used medication followed by Carboxy Methycellulose. Those with severe dry eyes require more aggressive therapy with lachrymal punctual occlusion plugs.
Lipiflow is a medical device that uses heat and pressure on the eyelids to unclog blocked glands. These glands produce oil as part of the tear film. The oil lubricates the eye and prevents the tears from evaporating.
If temporary plugging of the tear drains works well, then longer-lasting plugs or cautery may be used. These measures increase the tear level by blocking the “drainpipe” through which tears normally exit the eye and enter the nose. The plugs can be easily removed. Rarely, the plugs may come out spontaneously or migrate down the tear drain. Many patients with particularly bothersome dry eyes find that the plugs or surgical occlusion (cautery) improve comfort and reduce the need for artificial tears.
If your dry eyes are severe and fail to respond to other forms of treatment, surgery may be an option.
Home Remedies for Dry Eyes
Avoid exposing the eyes to air directly, e.g. a car heater, hair driers, and air conditioners.
Drink plenty of water. Increasing fluid intake can provide your body with the moisture it needs to increase tear production.
Eat foods rich in Vitamins A, C and E and in Omega-3 fatty acids. These vitamins and fatty acids provide eyes with the nutrients they need to stay healthy and well-hydrated.
Reduce salt in your diet. Dry eyes can come from too much salt in the diet. You can test this for yourself, especially when getting up at night to use the bathroom. If your eyes are now dry, drink a few ounces of water (small coffee size) and see if your eyes don’t get nearly immediate relief. If they do, then reduce the salt in your diet and stay hydrated.
Try a humidifier. Often, environmental conditions can be the cause of dry eyes. Dust and pollen in the air can work their way into your eyes and cause irritations. Keep the home environs humid, between 30 and 50 percent. During winter a humidifier may be used to add moisture to dry indoor air. Additional humidity can be created by wearing special glasses that form a moisture chamber around the eye.
Wear glasses while going out in the sun. When you are outside or in environments that may be high in dust or pollen, wearing glasses protects the eyes from these irritants. Exposure to wind and sun can also cause eyes to dry.
Prophylactic use of eye drops before rather than after, when performing activities which are visually demanding.
Try to blink frequently which will help spread the tears more frequently.
Try avoiding rubbing the eyes.
Keep your contact lenses well hydrated. Be sure to remove your daily use contacts each day before you go to sleep, clean the lenses with a recommended contact lens cleaner and hydrate the lenses in saline solution over night. Maintaining well-hydrated contact lenses can solve dry eye problems.
Sleep at least seven hour each night. Getting a complete rest at night allows your body to restore itself and helps your eyes re-hydrate. When your eyes are closed during sleep, your eyelids replenish your eyeballs with the needed moisture.
Relax your eyes from using your computer, television, wireless phone or other electronic devices. Eyes can become dry from using such devices for extended periods of time.
Alternative Treatments for Dry Eyes
Addition of the tears. Frequent use of preservative-free artificial tears proactively, before beginning an activity that tends to aggravate dry eye symptoms.
Conservation of tears. This can be done by either partially or completely blocking the tear ducts, which normally drain the tears. This closure not only conserves your own tears but also the artificial tears. A more drastic and permanent treatment is the cauterization of the lacrimal punctum.
Use of eye ointments. Artificial tears are only supplements and not a substitute for natural tears. Eye ointments give comfort due to their lubricating effect and are particularly useful during extended periods when artificial tears cannot be applied.
Use of artificial tear drops. The dry and uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes can be alleviated through the use of artificial tears. Artificial tear drops are available over the counter and there are a wide range of them available. It may be necessary to try the many different formulations in order to find the one that gives the greatest relief. In case of chronic dry eyes, artificial tears have to be used even if the eyes are symptom free. If you wear contacts, look for drops designed specifically for use with contact lenses.
How to Use Contact Lenses with Dry Eyes
Visit your eye doctor. Make an appointment with your eye doctor to get fitted for the correct contacts. Be sure to mention you have dry eyes.
Avoid sleeping in your contacts and never wear them more than 12 hours a day. That will cause your eyes to dry out even more.
If you choose to wear your lens all day are are worried about your dry eyes, carry eye drops with you. In case your eyes feel dry, use artificial eye drops to keep them moist.
Be sure to get a watery contact with high moisture levels. This will suit your eyes better than regular ones.
Get a high moisture solution to soak your contacts in each night.
How to Avoid Getting Dry Eyes from the Computer
10-10-10. Every 10 minutes, look at an object 10 feet away for 10 seconds to get them adjusted to long-distance too, so you are ready when you get off the computer.
Back up the screen, but not so much that you have to strain to read the text. 16-24 inches is a good distance, depending on your eyesight and the size of the screen. Consider changing the settings to show larger text on every site accessed on your browser.
Adjust the screen settings. You will find that if you make your screen a bit duller, it is actually easier to read. The screen should be just as bright as your surroundings, and should not appear to be a glowing box nor pitch black object. You will find that you can actually get used to a brightness of 0. Contrast should usually be in the level of the 80s, but they are different for different screens. Contrast is the strength of the colors compared next to each other.
Use the computer less and make your time count. Learn to type faster so that you can type up an email faster and be able to get off faster. It is also very efficient to print up long pages that you would have to read on the computer. If you are really sensitive, consider getting a job that doesn’t require computer use on a daily basis.