Do your eyes itchy and burn? Do they feel scratchy or like something is in them all the time. Do you carry around a bottle of artificial tears and put them in constantly, but feel that the relief lasts only about 5 minutes? Does your vision fluctuate or go in and out of focus? Have you stopped doing things you love like reading or sewing because you just can’t focus on it by the end of the day?
You are not alone. It is estimated that almost 5 million Americans have dry eye syndrome, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Like with any disease there are some factors that you can control to affect your risk of the disease, and some that you can’t control. Being female and over the age of 40 are very significant risk factors in dry eye disease, but we can’t change these facts. However, there are a ton of things you could be doing to worsen your dry eye.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking is placing irritants right next to your own eyes. If your eyes are sensitive to light, fragrances, hot or cold, wind, and/or pollen, then smoking is making your dry eyes worse. In addition, smoking decreases our Vitamin C levels in our bodies. Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory. One of the leading causes of dry eyes is inflammation on the front surface of the eyes. Taking a vitamin C supplement may help your dryness.
Air Conditioners / Heaters: These can affect dry eye sufferers in two ways. First, running the heater or air conditioner can dry out the air in your environment. Drier air will lead to drier eyes. Avoid having the air blow directly on to your face or eyes. If air conditioners and heaters can not be avoided, consider the use of a humidifier.
Computer / Digital Device Use: Studies have shown that a person’s rate of blinking is reduced from 20 blinks a minute normally to only about 4 blinks when using a computer. We tend to concentrate on these digital devices and our blinking slows incredibly, thus the front surface of the eye is not refreshed with tears and our eyes dry out.
Wearing the wrong kind of makeup: Makeup that is powdery or contains glitter as well as water proof makeup are going to worsen dry eye symptoms. Glitters and powders can fall into the eyes and become irritants. Whereas, water proof makeup contains waxes, which can block the precious oil glands on our eyelids.
Not properly removing makeup: Makeup that is not removed from the eyes while we sleep will settle over the rim of our eye lids. The eyelid rim is home to our oil glands which produce the oil to protect our watery tears from drying out in the environment. Also, the makeup left on our lids and lashes will harbor the bacteria which normally lives on the skin around our eyes and cause an over population. This leads to crusty build up in the lashes, blepharitis.
Over Wearing your Contact Lenses: There are two ways in which you can over wear your contact lenses. First, you can wear them for too many hours a day. Once the begin to feel uncomfortable, they need to be removed. Do not wear your contact lenses overnight, even if they are approved for such a wearing schedule. The second way in which you can over wear your contact lenses is by not throwing them out at their approved replacement schedule. A two week lens should last only 14 days. Over wearing your contacts in either of these scenarios causes irritation to the inside of your eyelids as well as your eye’s surface. Proteins, pollen, dirt, dust and bacteria can build up on the lenses over time, then your eyelids blink over these deposits thousands of times a day.
Certain Medications: Many medications can dry out your eyes including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, anti-anxiety, and high blood pressure pills have been associated with dry eye.
Eye Drops: First, taking too many eye drops containing preservatives can irritate and dry out the eyes. Also, drops that advertise getting the red out or ones containing a vasoconstrictor should be avoided. These can be found in many over the counter dry eye therapies and allergy drops. So, always read the labels.
Improper Diet: Diets high is Omega 6 fatty acids or low in Omega 3 fatty acids can alter one’s tear film and lead to dry eye symptoms. An Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplement, 2000mg/day, is recommended for all dry eye sufferers. Also, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or not enough water can also dehydrate the eyes. Strive to drink at least 64oz/day.
Certain Eye Surgeries: Many eye surgeries including cataract surgery and refractive surgery, like LASIK and PRK, make incisions in the eye which damage the nerves on the front surface. The nerves from the center of your cornea to your brain trigger dryness and send signals to increase tear production. When these nerves are damaged, the signal fails to send. These nerves do regenerate, but it can sometimes take 6 – 12 months depending on the depth of the incision made and the patients age.
If you already have risk factors for dry eye disease that you can’t change like being a female over the age of 40, please take this list of manageable risk factors into account. Here are MOISTUREyes, we aim to teach you tips and techniques to regulate these other risk factors. We can reduce the amount of dry eye symptoms you experience daily when we work at it together.
If you were inspired by this post. Please leave a comment below and let us know which of these risky practices you are determined to remove from your current lifestyle.
Feel great by morning when you use these tips tonight. Alleviate the dry and scratchy symptoms you've been experiencing. Instead, wake up with whiter, brighter eyes. Plus there are more tips to come each week. You'll receive a notification every time a new blog arrives. You deserve to have clear, comfortable vision again.