Home Care Tips for Dry or Strained Eyes
An increasing number of adults are beginning to experience problems with their eyes, most commonly in the form of dryness, itchiness or a burning sensation. Most of it can be attributed to the significant exposure to digital screens and an overall hectic lifestyle, which does not allow much time for self care.
One may feel a greater sensitivity to light, or develop blurred vision, as well as redness of the eyes. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as hormonal changes, allergic reaction, use of contact lenses or even aging. Certain groups, including those above the age of 50, are regular contact lens wearers. Also, people with a history of eye injuries are at a greater risk of developing these problems.
In a study, it was discovered that 2 out of 3 adults in the UAE suffer from dry eyes. However, this condition can be managed through the implementation of certain lifestyle changes and the use of some simple home remedies, which can relieve the strain on the eyes. Here are some simple Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind while treating dry or strained eyes at home.
- Wash your eyelids
It is important to clean the eyes gently and regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria. You can dip a washcloth in warm water and gently rub it over the surface of the eyelid, specially at the base of the eyelashes. Another solution is to apply a small amount of a mild soap (with a balanced p.h) or baby shampoo to the finger and gently rub it on the eyelid for a few minutes, then rinse off immediately.
- Reduce screen time
Remember to take regular breaks away from your computer or phone screen. Use these breaks to close your eyes for a few minutes or blink repeatedly to spread the moisture across the surface of the eye. Ensure that the screen remains at eye level and is kept at a distance to minimise the strain on the eyes. Also consider reducing the brightness of the screen for less strain on the eyes.
- Unblock your oil glands
Daily use of warm compresses or eye masks can help retain moisture in the eye and unclog any buildup in the oil glands. This step is important, as the oil glands produce an oil film that forms a protective layer over the cornea and prevents dryness. Massaging the eyelids also proves effective in some cases.
- Switch out your contact lenses
Regular users of contact lenses are more likely to experience dryness in their eyes. Give your eyes some relief by switching to a pair of spectacles. Alternatively, one can opt for specialised contact lenses designed to bind the moisture in the eyes, known as scleral lenses.
- Add moisture to your surroundings
Using A humidifier can be helpful in retaining the moisture in the air, specially in dry, smoky or windy environments, as well as at high altitudes.
- Make dietary changes
Studies have shown that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can help control symptoms such as eye dryness. This can be added to the diet by increasing the consumption of foods such as walnuts, salmon, flaxseeds and cod liver oil. You can also take additional supplements of the same.
- Shield your eyes
Use protective eyewear for an additional layer of safety while engaging in activities such as cycling or driving, or simply stepping out on a windy day. Additionally, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect the eyes from the rays of the sun and prevent tears from evaporating.
- Over the counter medication
Using eye drops can at times improve the state of the eyes, by reducing the inflammation and dryness. Essentially, they lubricate the eye and promote healing by preventing the evaporation of tears. Eye drops with preservatives are recommended for people with long term conditions. However, these may cause irritation, and eye drops without preservatives (in single use bottles) are recommended for those with sensitive or extremely dry eyes. An alternative to eye drops are over the counter lubricating gels or ointments, which are generally thicker, and tend to blur the vision. It is usually advisable to use these before bedtime. Before taking any kind of medication, OTC or otherwise, it is generally recommended that you consult your doctor first.
Smoking is known to worsen the symptoms of dry eyes. If you smoke, devise a strategy to quit immediately, and avoid the company of others who are smoking.
- Using air-blowing appliances
Devices such as blow-dryers, fans or blow-heaters can have a dehydrating effect, especially on the eyes. Switch to alternatives (such as oil heaters) instead or consider to stop using them entirely.
- Spending time in air conditioned or heated rooms
It is best to avoid rooms with central air conditioning or heating, as these often prevent moisture from collecting in the air. In case these cannot be avoided, try to stay away from direct air impact. Also, while you are travelling in a car, position the AC away from your face and eyes.
- Switching your medication
Sometimes, dryness in the eyes can be an outcome of certain prescribed medication. However, before taking any decision, to stop or change the medication, do consult your doctor first, as it is likely that the dryness can be managed and controlled.
What Else You Can Do
Apart from these remedies and tips, some general lifestyle habits one can adopt is getting regular and consistent sleep, which helps the eyes build and retain moisture, and drinking water throughout the day to ensure that the body is hydrated enough to produce tears.
If these remedies do not provide consistent relief, then the problem might be more chronic and severe. At this point, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist, who can devise the best course of treatment.