Living with dry eyes is a common and sometimes chronic condition that particularly affects older adults. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. With every blink, our tears spread across the surface of the eye (cornea) which helps to provide moisture, wash away any particles or dust that should not be in the eye, and subsequently reduce the risk of eye infections. Dry eyes occur when your tears are unable to adequately lubricate the eyeballs. This can be due to lack of tears or poor-quality tears, leaving the eyes sore, inflamed and damaged.
Symptoms of dry eyes may include:
- Gritty feeling in the eye
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
There are multiple causes for the lack of balance in our tear system which causes dry eyes. These can be due to environmental factors such as pollen and the wind. As the winds blow into our eyes it can cause our tears to evaporate quickly. In addition, causes also include:
- Ageing - as we age our eyes produce fewer tears thus resulting in drier eyes.
- The menopause
- Side effects of drugs such as Antisthenes
- Medical conditions - such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems
- Heating and air-conditioning
- Working for long periods staring at screens - reduces how much we blink which prevents adequate lubrication for our eyes.
Treating dry eyes can include using eye drops that are preservative-free and are gentle on our eyes and free of any chemicals. Avoid using eye drops that contain the chemicals Tetrahydrozoline or Naphazoline hydrochloride as these ingredients constrict the muscular walls of the eye, shrinking the blood vessels to reduce the appearance of redness. Many drugstore eye drops are used to cover up redness but do not actually hydrate the eye so opting for natural alternatives will help to add moisture.
More natural solutions to treating dry eyes can include adding more omega-3 or fish oil to your diet, using a heat compress such as an eye mask on the eyes to unblock any ducts that will help to naturally produce the oil element of our tears. Also, limiting screen time by following the 20-20-20 rule will reduce the dryness of the eyes.
In the video below, one of WALDO's in-house opticians Anita discusses the topic of dry eyes and what we can do to help keep our eyes healthy and moisturised:
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