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  • Writer's pictureValerie Smith, APRN

Managing Dry Eyes: Effective Strategies for Relief

Dry eyes, medically known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, can be a persistent and uncomfortable condition affecting individuals of all ages. It occurs when the eyes are unable to produce adequate tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, resulting in dryness, irritation, and sometimes pain according to the National Eye Institute.

Fortunately, there are several options to help alleviate symptoms and provide relief from dry eyes. We discuss the 10 options we recommend at Paducah Rheumatology below. Before choosing an option, we always recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider first.

1. Artificial Tears and Eye Drops:

Artificial tears and over-the-counter eye drops can effectively lubricate the eyes, providing immediate relief from dryness and irritation. It's essential to choose drops without preservatives, especially if you need to use them frequently. Regular application can help maintain moisture on the eye's surface.

2. Humidify Your Environment:

Dry environments, especially those with air conditioning or heating systems, can exacerbate dry eyes. Using a humidifier in your living or working space adds moisture to the air, helping prevent excessive evaporation of tears from the eyes.

3. Blink More Often:

Extended periods of staring at screens, whether a computer or smartphone, can reduce the frequency of blinking, leading to dry eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink more often, especially during screen time, to distribute tears and keep your eyes moist.

4. Warm Compresses:

Applying a warm, damp cloth over closed eyelids for a few minutes can help soften the oil in the glands of the eyelids, allowing tears to spread more evenly and relieve dryness.

5. Proper Eyelid Hygiene:

Regularly clean your eyelids to prevent blockages of the oil glands that can contribute to dry eyes. Use a gentle cleanser or baby shampoo with warm water and a clean washcloth, and gently massage the eyelids.

6. Stay Hydrated:

Drinking adequate water throughout the day helps maintain overall body hydration, including the moisture levels in your eyes. Dehydration can exacerbate dry eyes, so ensure you're drinking enough fluids.

7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, and walnuts, in your diet can support eye health and reduce the severity of dry eye symptoms.

8. Protect Your Eyes:

Wearing wraparound sunglasses can shield your eyes from wind and dry air, reducing evaporation of tears. Additionally, safety glasses or goggles can protect your eyes from irritation, especially in windy or dusty environments.

9. Take Breaks During Screen Time:

If your work or leisure activities involve extended periods of staring at screens, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This practice can reduce eye strain and dryness.

10. Consult an Eye Specialist:

If dry eye symptoms persist or worsen despite trying these measures, consult an eye specialist (ophthalmologist). They can recommend additional treatments, such as prescription eye drops or other therapies tailored to your specific condition.

Dry eyes can significantly impact your daily activities and overall quality of life. Implementing these strategies and seeking professional guidance can help manage and alleviate dry eye symptoms effectively. Remember, consistency in maintaining eye hygiene, environmental adjustments, and incorporating healthy habits into your routine can make a noticeable difference in relieving dry eyes.

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we want to offer you all the tools you need to increase your quality of life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, but sure to consult with an eye specialist.

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