According to the American Optometric Association, dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected.
Although the primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes, below are additional self-care options that can help relieve symptoms.
You can take the following steps to reduce symptoms of dry eyes:
- Remember to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
- Increase the humidity in the air at work and at home.
- Wear sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wraparound frames, to reduce exposure to drying winds and the sun.
- Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your optometrist if taking dietary supplements could help your dry eye problems.
- Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day.