January 11, 2017


What are dry eyes?

Dry eyes occur when your tear glands don’t produce enough tears to lubricate your eyes. This condition can be uncomfortable and painful. It can be caused by both medical and environmental factors.

Dry eye syndrome

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a general term used to describe dry eyes caused by either poor quality tears or diminished tear production. The symptoms include:

scratchy, dry, and painful sensation in both of your eyes
feeling like something is in your eyes
mucus in or around your eyes
light sensitivity
fatigued eyes
blurred vision
There are a number of factors that can cause dry eyes. These include:

certain medications
certain medical conditions
Environmental factors such as pollution, dry and dusty air, windy conditions etc.

Using protective eye wear during sport activities may minimize dry eye complications as well as provide eye protection


Supplement your diet with fatty acids:    Research indicates that eating more omega-3 fatty acids may relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. This fat is known to reduce inflammation in the body. It may help relieve dry eyes by reducing eye inflammation, allowing for more tear production and higher quality tears.

You can use omega-3 supplements, or eat more foods rich in this nutrient, such as:

ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil
palm oil
soybean oil
chia seeds
fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
eggs that have been supplemented with omega-3 fats
Eye drops

There are a number of nonprescription products for dry eyes that may bring you relief. Eye drops, or artificial tears, can bring you temporary relief. Keep in mind that some eye drops contain preservatives. These usually come in multidose vials and contain preservatives to prevent bacterial growth once a vial is opened. If your eyes react badly to drops with preservatives, or if you apply eye drops more than four times a day, you should use preservative-free drops. Preservative-free drops usually come in single dose vials.

Ointments are thicker than drops and are designed to assist in proper functioning of the conjunctiva (mucus membrane that cover the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids),  and provide longer-term relief from dryness.

However, ointments can impair your vision while you’re using them. It’s best to use them before bedtime and stick to drops during the day.

See a doctor

When to see your doctor for dry eyes:    If these remedies don’t bring you relief, or if you think you have a more serious condition causing your dry eyes, it’s time to see your doctor. Here are some symptoms that should prompt you to call your doctor for an appointment:

redness and swelling
pain beyond mild irritation
an eye injury
flaking or discharge from the eye
joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
dry mouth
continued dryness after a few days of self-care
Dry eyes are usually temporary, and are a natural part of aging for most people. But in some cases, the condition is caused by something more serious. Try home care for relief and see your doctor if needed.


How to prevent dry eyes:    Besides using eye drops or ointment, there are several simple ways to help prevent dry eyes. These include:

Avoid places with a lot of air movement:    This means limiting your exposure to fans and hair dryers, and by wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside on windy days to protect your eyes from drying out.

Turn on a humidifier in the wintertime:    Home heating systems can cause the air in your home to dry out, and dry out your eyes. But using a humidifier can help the air stay moist. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can put a pan of water on your radiator to add water into the air.

Rest your eyes:    Frequent reading, TV watching, and computer use can dry out your eyes, so it’s important to take breaks so your eyes can regain some of their moisture.

Stay away from cigarette smoke:    Cigarette smoke can irritate dry eyes and increase one’s risk of developing dry eyes in the first place.

Use warm compresses then wash your eyelids:    Placing a warm compress on your eyes then washing your eyelids with baby shampoo helps to release some of the oil in your eyelids’ glands, this improves the quality of your tears. Be sure you completely rinse soap from your eyes when finished to avoid irritating them.

Try an omega-3 fatty acid supplement:    Some people report dry eye relief after adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet. These can be found naturally in foods like oily fish and flax seeds, but can also be purchased in liquid or pill supplement form.