Make itchy dry eyes a thing of the past
Do your eyes ever feel dry and itchy? Do your eyes water all the time? Are your eyes sticky in the mornings? Are you always having to wipe your eyes?
If you’ve answered yes to more than one of these questions the chances are you are suffering from dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease is exactly what it says. For several reasons your eyes become dry and uncomfortable.
A normal healthy eye blinks on average 22 times per minute. A blink is a mechanism designed to keep our eyes fresh and lubricated. The problem in winter is that we tend to bump up the heating and spend more time indoors. Often we spend more time on our computers or watching TV, both these activities have a negative effect upon our eyes. Central heating is drying and staring at a computer or TV screen reduces blinking.
Dry eyes can be very uncomfortable, but it is a relatively easy condition to treat. Some treatments include lubricants or dry drops, sometimes we recommend a hot compress or eyelid massage.
We are what we eat
Did you know that certain foods can help maintain proper hydration of your eyes. You might recall this advice from your childhood, “eating more carrots will help you see better.” Well, that’s not exactly true, but to ease the symptoms, you must have a daily intake of several key nutrients.
Potassium is great for dry eyes because it is one of the important components that comprise your tear film. Low levels of potassium have been linked to damage to your tear film, and potassium is critical the maintenance of film thickness.
To keep your potassium levels high, eat these foods:
- Sweet potatoes, Potatoes
- White beans
Dry eyes can be caused by damage from free radicals in the body, and studies have
shown that antioxidants can help fight these free radicals and so slow the process of oxidation.
Antioxidant rich foods are easy to identify because they are usually a rich dark colour, these foods include all our eye health favourites and some superfoods:
- Spinach, Kale, collard greens
- Acai berries, Goji berries, blueberries etc
Some studies have found that taking supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids can decrease dry eye symptoms. Good sources of omega-3s include cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and cod. For the vegetarians out there try flaxseed oil.
Simply drinking more water can help relieve dry eye symptoms. Mild dehydration has been proven to make dry eye symptoms worse. This is particularly true during hot, dry and windy weather.
When concentrating (eg using a computer or driving), we can blink up to 5 times less often, this leads to increased tear evaporation. Remembering to blink more often can help keep the surface of your eye moist and reduce dry eye symptoms.
Remove the make up
For those who like a bit of glam, always remove your eye makeup. Eyeliner and other eye makeup can clog the openings of your meibomian glands at the base of your eyelashes. Blocked meibomian glands can lead to meibomian gland dysfunction and evaporative dry eye. At the end of the day always be diligent about remove all traces of makeup from your lids and lashes.
Clean your eyelids.
When washing your face before bedtime, gently wash your eyelids, this will help to remove the bacteria that can cause blepharitis and meibomian gland problems. Which in turn lead to dry eye symptoms. Apply a clean, warm, moist face cloth to your closed lids for at least 20 seconds. Then gently wash your lids and lashes with a mild cleanser, or use pre-moistened eyelid wipes sold in our practices.
Sometime however dry eye can be caused by an underlying condition. More severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome include extreme light sensitivity (photophobia), very red and painful eyes, and deterioration in your vision.
If you have any of these severe symptoms, this can be a sign of a serious complication. If this is the case contact us immediately, either by calling Greenfield on 01457 353199 or Meltham on 01484 907090 for appropriate advice or an appointment.