Whether we’re in a sad state or a happy state, our eyes are full of tears. It is a natural phenomenon and aims to provide the right amount of lubrication and moisture to help our eyes function normally and in keeping our peepers comfortable. Tears are not just plain water; they are a combination of water mixed with oils, mucus, antibodies, and special proteins. The oils provide lubrication, mucus ensures even spreading, antibodies & proteins provide protection against infections and water provides moisture. Tears are secreted from glands located around our eyes and they manage the flow of fluids as per the environment our eyes are exposed to.
Dry Eyes: Common Causes & Symptoms
‘Dry Eyes’ is a condition when our tear secretion process is not functioning properly & the eyes are running out of moisture or lubrication for a comfortable view. Some of the common symptoms of having Dry Eyes are itching in the eyes; redness; improper or blurred vision, irritation in the eyes like there is some dust or particle in the eye, a gritty feeling, inflammation and even scarring of the surface of eyeballs, and eye fatigue or heavy eyes.
Dry eyes if often caused by factors that correlate directly with lifestyle. Some of the common causes of dry eyes are extensive use of computers and mobiles, wearing contact lenses for elongated durations, menopause, frequent travelling or flying, smoking, exposure to dry or windy conditions, excessive exposure to air conditioning that can cause a dip in the humidity, medications like birth control pills and blood pressure pills can cause lack of moisture in the eyes, and existing health conditions like diabetes, thyroid-associated diseases, etc. can also cause dry eyes.
How to find Relief
- Warm Compression
Soak a clean cloth with lukewarm water and place it over your face with your eyes closed. Keep the cloth over your eyes for at least a minute. Gently press the cloth from the side of eyelids with your fingers to squeeze out the clogged oils from the glands around your eyes. Gentle massaging with warm water soaked cloth helps loosen up the oils that may have gotten clogged in the glands.
- Blink More
Blinking more allows the lubrication and moisture to be even spread across the surface of your eyes. If you work more on computers, intentionally try and blink your eyes more so that the flow of tears is maintained and there’s a less loss of moisture between the blinks. Blinking is a natural way of maintaining the moisture levels and lubrication across the surface of the eyeballs.
- Keep your eyes & lashes clean
Keeping your eye lashes clean and the skin around the eyes helps in reducing the chances of eyelid inflammation. Use a drop of baby shampoo or mild soap to clean your eyes regularly. Crusty lashes are a common cause of dry eyes. Dust particles, dried mucus, and other dirt that often go unnoticed can cause your eyes to lose their optimum level of moisture leading to the dry eyes syndrome.
- Keep yourself hydrated
The human body needs ample amounts of water to keep all the functions going normally, including the working of our eyes. Our drinking water habit is an important factor driving the health. If you often wait until you’re thirsty to sip on a glass of water, then you are already slightly dehydrated by that time. This means that your water intake is insufficient and can become a cause of potential dehydration related issues.
- Indoors: Humidify your room/ office; Purify the Air
Using a humidifier can add to the moisture level of your room/ office space. Spending more time in indoor spaces with less humidity can lead to the dry eyes syndrome. Likewise, you can also install an air purifier to filter out the air of dust and dirt particles. Dust & dirt particles are a common cause of dry eyes.
- Outdoors: Choose the right eyewear
Eyewear like wraparound sunglasses can help prevent your eyes from exposure to drying winds, which can cause tears to evaporate quickly. Avoid keep your face directly towards blowing air or hot breezes. If you are required to be outdoors with such conditions, pick a pair of glasses that help protect your eyes from direct exposure to winds.
- Eye Drops
This is one of the most common measures prescribed by general physicians. You can opt for over the counter eye drops and use them regularly as per the guidance of your doctor. However, ensure that the eye drops don’t trigger any allergies or cause irritation in the eyes. This can happen due to some ingredients like preservatives that may react negatively on your body.
- Nutritional Supplements
Many doctors also prescribe nutritional supplements to help you find relief from dry eyes syndrome in cases when the patients are going through a holistic treatment. Food supplements like good sources of omega 3 fatty acids are usually advised. Some of these sources of omega 3 are cold water fish, flax seeds, etc.
- Go easy on that Make-up
Avoid using make-up if you are suffering from dry eyes. Many make-up products may contain harmful ingredients that cause damage to the skin around the eyes and eyelids. Use only herbal & medically certified products to avoid any skin damage.
- Punctal plugs
Use of punctal plugs may be sometimes prescribed in dry eye treatment. These plugs are designed to help tears stay on the eye longer. A punctal plug is a sterile device inserted into one of the small openings (puncta) of tear secretion ducts located in the inner corner of the eyelids regulating the flow of tears.
- Meibomian Gland Expression (MGE)
Dry eyes is often caused when the oil (meibum) secreted from meibomian glands gets affected. These glands are located along the eyelids and can get clogged. This can be treated by eye doctors using in-office procedures where-in they use MGE to de-clog the oil secreting glands.
- Give your eyes the rest they deserve
Working on computers for too long is one of the most common causes of dry eyes. You should always take frequent breaks and indulge in eye relaxation therapies to ensure your eyes are well rested and taken care of.