Our eyes are one of our key senses. We use our sight for everything. And when our eyes are dry, it can impede how we see things.
Faulty tear glands may not be something you think about until you experience the aching, itching and stinging that can accompany dry eyes. Dry eyes can be more than a minor burden; serious dryness can lead to abrasions of the cornea and possibly blindness if left untreated.
More than 3.2 million women and 1.6 million men (in the United States) over the age of 50 experience the symptoms of dry eye. For some the experience is occasional, while others must learn to deal with constant dryness.
The causes for dry eyes are varied. They can include:
- Blood pressure medicine
- Winter winds
- Air conditioning and indoor heating.
Whatever the cause, there is a variety of natural remedies and preventable measures you can undertake to help your eyes stay moist.
Smoking: Cigarette smoke irritates the eyes, which can lead to chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelid. That inflammation, in turn, can cause eye dryness. If you smoke, this is another excellent reason to quit. Avoid secondhand smoke from other people’s cigarettes as well.
Automobile Air vents: Vents pointed at your face and eyes can quickly drain the moisture in your eyes. Make sure to aim the vents away from your eyes or wear sunglasses for protection.
Omega-3: Omega-3s may improve tear quality and decrease inflammation in dry eyes. These healthy fats are found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. Other sources include flaxseeds, walnuts, and soybean and canola oils. Or ask your eye care professional about omega-3 supplements.
Vitamin A: Taking a vitamin A supplement or eating vitamin A rich foods such as salmon or eggs can help keep your eyes moist.
Blink: In the electronic age, many of us spend a good deal of time staring at a computer screen. This can irritate even mild cases of dry eyes. When you are concentrating, you tend not to blink as much. Not blinking as frequently will make eye moisture evaporate rapidly. Ever so often, look away from your computer (or television) and take a blink break. Your eyes will thank you.
Humidify: Low moisture levels can dry your eyes fast. The winter can be especially drying during sleep. If possible, get a humidifier for the areas in which you spend a lot of time.
Some other tips:
- Add moisture to the air
- Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear
- Take eye breaks during long tasks
- Be aware of your environment
- Position your computer screen below eye level
- Use artificial tears regularly
Your eyes are one of your most prized possessions. Think for a second what life would be like without them. It is important not to take them for granted. I hope the above remedies help, if not or if the problem persists, get to an eye doctor.