Self-Help for Dry Eye Syndrome

When there is a lack of tear formation or if the tears evaporate quickly in the eyes, dry eye syndrome occurs. When affected by this syndrome, it is difficult to read or use a computer for long durations and it may be difficult to tolerate dry environments. Prevention is better than cure and there are a number of ways to prevent dry eye syndrome.

Image Credit: liza54500 / Shutterstock
Image Credit: liza54500 / Shutterstock

Protecting from Environmental Factors

  • Environmental factors strongly influence dry eye. We need to protect our eyes from strong winds, fire, smoke, or hot dry air.
  • Goggles: These protect the eyes, supply better airflow that reduces tear evaporation from the eye surface, and help to have good peripheral vision. The significant fact is that the goggles must fit from the corners of the eye across the bow with only minimal gaps. Most safety goggles also fit comfortably over prescription eyewear. Prescription eyewear is also available with side protection.
  • Moisture chamber spectacles: The ocular comfort increases and the tear film stabilizes with the help of this spectacle. It has been researched as one of the safe alternative treatments for dry eye and has been specifically designed for people working in very poor environmental conditions.
  • Face shields: Compared with goggles, face shields can provide protection both to the face and to the eyes.
  • Contact lens: There is a unique variety of contact lenses available for dry eye syndrome.
  • Increasing the humidity will help to lessen the symptoms of dry eye. Using a humidifier, especially during winter, helps to moisten the air whether at the workplace or at home. Open windows help in circulation of air inside the space and retain the moisture in the air.

Maintaining Eye Health

A healthy eyelid maintains a healthy tear film. Eyelid hygiene is very important for a healthy eyelid.

  • Warm press: A warm wet face cloth should be pressed against the closed eye for about 5 minutes. The eyelid margin scales are loosened and improve the fluidity of meibomian glands within the eyelid. Eyelid warming devices like "eyebags” are available in the market and provide steady and controlled heat therapy.
  • Eyelid massages: Soothingly massage the upper and lower eyelids by rolling your little finger in a circular motion. This will help to push the melted oil out of the glands.  The massage should progress starting from the origin of the eyelid to the edge and a warm press or a mild pinching act on the eyelid again from origin to the edge. Stagnant oils can have a different chemical structure and after massage when the oil drains, it might result in mild irritation, which is normal.

Hygiene of the lid margin: After the massage, the oils should be cleaned from the lid margin to reduce bacterial or dust effects.

  • There are many commercial cleaning solutions available for cleansing the eyelids such as eyelid wipes (sterilized) and antibiotic cream/ointment to apply along the edges of eyelid.

Adopting Eye-Friendly Lifestyle

A simple and effective method to prevent dry eye syndrome is to change the lifestyle.

  • Avoid long exposure to computers, televisions, and reading, which reduce the blink rate and increase the evaporation of tears.
  • Like any other system in the human body, your eyes also need rest after long working hours. Positioning of the computer workstation and television will reduce the eyestrain. A classic example is that the monitor needs to be placed at eye level or can be just beneath the eye level.
  • Blink the eyes regularly by taking rests from continuous work–whether at the workplace, or while reading or watching television. Practicing a rule of taking a 20-second break after every 20 minutes and looking at an object that is 20 feet away reduces the strain on the eyes.
  • Applying lubricating eye drops while reading or while there is exposure to computers and televisions will help reduce dry eye.
  • Intake of nutritional supplements and antioxidants can improve the health of the eyes. Certain nutrients such as zinc help to maintain good vision. Nutrients such as Lutein and zeaxanthin found in green leafy vegetables and eggs reduce the threat of cataracts and other chronic diseases of the eye. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C found in vegetables and fruits reduce the risk of eye diseases and when combined with certain other nutrients reduce the loss of visual acuity. Found in nuts, sweet potatoes, and fortified cereals, vitamin E protects the cells of the eyes.
  • For proper development of vision and functioning of the retina, omega-3 fatty acids are essential. The human body does not produce alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), forms of omega-3, and so it has to be supplemented in the diet. Oily fish, walnuts, beans, milk, pumpkin seeds, vegetable oils, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables are sources of these nutrients. Drinking about 8–10 glasses of water a day is recommended to prevent dehydration.

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 23, 2017

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