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Red, Dry, Irritated Eyes? Finding Relief from Dry Eye

If your eyes are constantly red, dry, and irritated, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of chronic dry eye. While many people have dry eyes occasionally, people with chronic dry eye experience the uncomfortable, often painful symptoms of this common eye condition daily.

Keep reading to learn more about dry eye, including how to find relief from dry and irritated eyes!

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep them moist and comfortable. The most common symptoms of dry eye include a dry, gritty, or burning sensation in the eyes.

You may also experience an increase in tearing, as well as a buildup of mucus that makes the eyes feel as though they are glued together after being closed. Dry eye can lead to eye strain, light sensitivity, and headaches.

If left untreated, dry eye can lead to tissue damage and scarring of the cornea. The goal of dry eye treatments are aimed at lubricating the eye, reducing eye inflammation, eliminating environmental triggers, and maintaining overall health. 

What Causes Dry Eye?

Chronic dry eye is most often the result of aging. As people age, their eyes produce fewer of the healthy tears that maintain adequate moisture levels. 

Healthy tears consist of three layers: the oil layer, the water layer, and the mucin layer. These layers work together to lubricate, protect, and nourish eyes.

Other causes of dry eye include:

  • Health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Grave’s disease, diabetes, scleroderma, and Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Hormonal changes after menopause and during pregnancy
  • Neglecting to blink enough when looking at an electronic screen for an extended period of time
  • Dry indoor environments
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Taking certain medications like antihistamines, diuretics, and birth control pills

How to Find Relief for Dry Eye

If you are suffering from dry eye, here are some of the best ways to find relief:

Artificial Tears

The most effective way to relieve dry eye is by keeping your eyes moist with eye drops. Regular use of eye drops helps maintain moisture levels and keep eyes comfortable.

Prescription Eye Drops

Many people can find relief with over-the-counter eye drops, but more severe cases of chronic dry eye may require prescription eye drops. Your eye doctor can advise you on the most effective option for you.   

Use a Humidifier

The ideal humidity for eye comfort is between 40% and 60%. Using a humidifier in your home’s most commonly used rooms can help ensure that dry indoor air isn’t making your dry eye worse. 

Limit Screen Time

Prolonged use of electronic screens is quickly becoming the most common cause of chronic dry eye today. This is because people tend to blink much less when looking at a screen for long periods of time.

You can avoid dry eyes from too much screen time when you abide by the 20-20-20 rule. Following this rule is easy and effective: look up from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Stay Hydrated

When you are dehydrated, your body produces fewer tears. Staying adequately hydrated throughout the day can help keep your eyes comfortably moist. 

The amount of water needed to maintain optimal eye moisture can vary from person to person. For most people, healthcare providers recommend drinking at least 64 fluid ounces of water daily.

Limit Contact Lens Use

Contact lenses limit the flow of oxygen to the eyes and prevent tear production. Additionally, dried-out contact lenses can cause eye irritation and lead to serious eye problems, like infections and abrasions. 

Wearing your contact lenses less can relieve dry eyes. You can accomplish this by wearing your glasses when you are home and always removing your contact lenses before you go to bed.

Get Your Vitamins

Multiple studies have shown a link between what you eat and the health of your eyes. You can boost healthy tear production by consuming more of the foods that help keep your eyes moist.

The best foods for healthy tears are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. These nutrients can be found in foods like oily fish, carrots, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Purify Your Air

If you are allergic to common allergens like pet dander or dust, taking antihistamines to treat allergy symptoms can worsen dry eyes. Using an air purifier can eliminate approximately 99% of contaminants from the air in your home and prevent the need for eye-drying allergy medications.

Consider Advanced Dry Eye Treatment Options

If your chronic dry eye can’t be effectively managed with eye drops or changes to your environment or lifestyle, your eye care provider may suggest a more advanced treatment.

More advanced dry eye treatments include surgical closure of tear drainage canals, insertion of punctal plugs to reduce tear drainage, and heat therapy.

If red, dry, irritated eyes are affecting the comfort of your vision, you can find relief from chronic dry eye by following the suggestions above and consulting with your eye care provider. Your eye care provider can give you an accurate diagnosis and provide treatment options that offer lasting relief from chronic dry eye.

Do you want to learn more about how you can get relief from your dry eye symptoms? Schedule an appointment at Nevada Eye Physicians in Las Vegas, NV, today!

Seek Treatment Today

If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with cataracts, it is important to seek attention from an eye care professional as soon as possible. At Nevada Eye Physicians, we work to both diagnose and treat cataracts to help our patients gain clearer vision. To schedule your consultation, contact one of our facilities today.

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