If you have experienced dry eyes, you’ll know how this condition can impact your eye health. Dry eyes can make your eyes feel gritty, sore and irritated, and in some cases, it can even affect your vision.
So how can you treat dry eyes, and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the first place? Keep reading to find out more.
How to get rid of dry eyes
If you are struggling with dry eyes, there are a few things you can try at home to alleviate your symptoms.
- Use eye drops
Using eye drops can provide instant, soothing relief from the symptoms of dry eyes. These liquid drops can help keep eyes moist to reduce feelings of irritation and discomfort. There are a range of eye drops available. For example, TheraTears® Dry or Tired Eye Drops are formulated with hyaluronic acid, which works to add moisture to dry or tired eyes. Suitable for contact lens wearers, this formula, which is preservative-free on the eye, contains soothing witch hazel to reduce puffiness, as well as featuring Ginkgo biloba to provide protection from sunlight.
Applying eye drops is quick and easy, and you should be able to notice the difference almost immediately. It’s important to refer to the product leaflet or packaging to make sure you know how to apply the drops.
- Clean your eyelids
Cleaning your eyelids every day can significantly improve the symptoms of dry eye. You can do this by using your finger or a cotton bud to gently massage your eyelids to help push out oils from the glands. Next, soak some cotton wool in warm, but not hot, water. Use the cotton wool to wipe away excess oil, bacteria and general debris that may have built up. Always make sure that you use a clean piece of cotton wool for each eye, and start from the inner corner of your eye using an outwards sweeping motion.
- Apply a warm compress
Applying a warm compress across your eyes can provide short-term relief from the symptoms of dry eyes. The warmth from the compress can help open up the glands in your eyes to improve the health of your natural tears.
Simply soak a clean washcloth or small towel in water that’s hot to the touch but not scalding, then remove it to squeeze out the excess water. Fold the cloth or towel so that it is small enough to cover your eyes, before placing it over your eyes for around 5 to 10 minutes. After removing the compress, your eyes should feel fresh and soothed. You can apply a warm compress as often as you like, and it can be especially effective if used alongside eye drops.
- Take a break from wearing contact lenses
If you’re a contact lens wearer and you’ve noticed that your eyes feel scratchy and sore, it’s a good idea to take a break from wearing them. Contact lenses can make dry eyes feel worse, so switching to your glasses gives your eyes the chance to rest and recover. If you think your contact lenses may be causing your dry eye symptoms, you should speak to your optician or optometrist for further advice.
How to prevent dry eyes
If you are particularly prone to experiencing dry eyes, it can be helpful to know how you can prevent this from happening. Keep reading for tips on how to avoid this condition.
- Reduce your screen time
Whether you’re watching TV, using a laptop or scrolling on your phone, too much screen time can be bad news for your eye health. Staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time can leave your eyes feeling dry and irritated. This is due to the fact that you blink less when looking at the blue light that’s emitted from a screen.
To avoid this, it can help to simply reduce your screen time. That being said, this can be difficult if you work at a computer or laptop as part of your job. In this case, you should make sure that you take regular breaks throughout the day to rest your eyes.
- Stop smoking
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health – but did you know this habit could be to blame for your dry eyes too? Each time you blink, the glands of your eyelids coat the ocular surface with a layer of tears which protects your eyes from dust, debris, and ultimately, drying out. Cigarette smoke contains many harmful chemicals that can break down this layer. In turn, this can affect the production of tears, which can then cause the eye’s surface to become dry and irritated. Giving up smoking will not only help to prevent your eyes from drying out, but it will significantly improve your overall health.
- Avoid heavily air conditioned or heated environments
Spending too much time in environments that are heavily air conditioned or heated can make your eyes feel dry and sore – but why?
Air conditioning works by removing moisture from the air, and while this helps keep rooms cool, it can dry your eyes out too. In short, air conditioning can disrupt the watery element of your tear film – the part of your eye that covers the ocular surface and is crucial for protecting your eyes and keeping them lubricated. Being subject to air conditioning can cause an imbalance in the tear film, which in turn, can lead to dry eye symptoms. Meanwhile, having the heating cranked up evaporates the water in the air and decreases the humidity. This then creates a dry atmosphere, meaning that as a result, your eyes may feel dry and sore.
Putting a limit on the amount of time you spend in heavily air conditioned or heated environments should help keep your eyes feeling fresh and healthy.
Can dry eyes be cured?
There is no cure for dry eyes. It is considered to be a chronic condition which can happen anytime you are exposed to the potential causes, whether this is spending too much time staring at a screen or being in heavily heated or air conditioned environments.
Limiting your exposure to certain environmental conditions can prevent the development of dry eye symptoms. As discussed earlier in this article, there are a number of ways you can prevent these symptoms, and there are also various treatments and steps you can take to relieve the feeling of dry eyes.