Dry Eye Treatments At Lowy & Sewell Eye Care
If your eyes sting, burn, or feel scratchy you may have dry eye syndrome (DES), a condition that is usually caused by low-quality or low production of tears.
There are many factors that can cause dry eyes. Smoke and dry air can dry out the eyes, and so can wearing contact lenses, taking certain medications, and spending long periods of time reading a book or looking at a computer screen. In addition, our eyes tend to get drier as we age.
No matter the cause, dry eye syndrome can be extremely uncomfortable, and in severe cases can damage the cornea.
While only Dr. Lowy can diagnose and treat dry eye syndrome, these 5 home remedies may provide some relief.
A warm compress will improve oil flow through your eyelid glands and clean your eyelids. You can make them at home with a small face cloth and warm water or purchase compresses at your local pharmacy.
A great form of preventative care is eye washing. Washing your eyes you can keep your tear ducts and eyelids from getting blocked.
To help remove crust from your eyelids and eyelashes and to keep your eyes cleaner, try applying a sting-free shampoo. Some pharmacies sell over-the-counter eyelid and eyelash washes to clean these areas.
Add Omega-3 to Your Diet
Oils are a necessary component of tears, as they add lubrication and reduce evaporation. Dry eye syndrome can result from insufficient oil, so adding omega-3 to your diet can increase the oil in tears.
To increase your omega-3 intake, either take supplements or eat foods that contain high levels of the fatty acid.
Foods that contain Omega-3 include:
- Chia seeds
- Palm oil
- Soybean oil
Take Frequent Breaks and Blink More
When watching TV, reading, or using the computer many people forget to blink. It’s important to take breaks and blink more to inspire the flow of tears, which helps keep the moisture in your eyes intact. A well-known rule to follow is the 20-20-20 rule. It involves taking breaks at least every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds — especially when staring at a computer screen or digital device for long periods.
Tweak Your Environment
Environmental factors can cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Heat, dust, smoke, pollution, high winds, and air conditioning all dry out our eyes. Using a cold-mist humidifier and not sitting directly in front of an air conditioner, heater, or fan can help reduce eye irritation.
Last but not least: drink more water! Staying well-hydrated is good for your eyes and is critical for producing healthy tears, clearing out debris, blinking, and seeing comfortably. Be sure you drink lots of water to maintain your eye health, and of course, overall physical well-being.
Home remedies can relieve mild dry eyes but are not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam. If the symptoms persist or worsen, contact Lowy & Sewell Eye Care in Concord. We are committed to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear.
Frequently Asked Dry Eye Questions with Dr. Lowy
A: Dry eye can cause quite a few symptoms, anything from the eyes actually feeling dry to the eyes watering often, or having a burning, itchy, or irritated feeling. One of the most common symptoms is the eyes feeling gritty or like something is in your eye. Most people will often experience blurred vision since the tears, which comprise the outermost surface of the eye, are unstable.
A: Warning signs can accumulate quite gradually over many years. Not uncommonly among contact lens wearers, they may incorrectly assume the lenses are old and need to be replaced. Other times the eyes water a bit more, or burn, or itch. Many, many cases are sub-clinical – they can only be diagnosed with the use of microscopic detection and special equipment. We look at tear quality, tear meniscus, and gland structure. Research has pointed towards the testing of tear osmolarity as a reliable indicator of the disease in terms of pre-treatment and post-treatment situations.
Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
A: Patients should undergo a dry eye evaluation by a therapeutic optometrist at the first signs of dry eyes. Those who wear, or over wear, contact lenses are at higher risk for dry eye syndrome, as are patients who suffer from multiple systemic conditions. Patients who are taking multiple medications may also complain of dry eye due to drug interactions. Mild acute symptoms may be treated with over the counter drops, but most patients select an incorrect product that isn't specific to their condition and can often mask serious conditions or lead to toxic corneal reactions. A consult is also warranted for any patient who has been recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition or undergoing high-risk medications.
A: Treatment for dry eye varies due to the severity and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If artificial tears are not sufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Also, lid hygiene, as well as omega-3 fish oil supplementation, can improve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications, as well as punctal plugs, are also available if needed for treatment.