If you have been bothered by dry eyes lately, you are not alone! Wintertime with its low humidity levels and stagnant indoor heat often causes an increase in dry eyes. The signs and symptoms can include the burning, itching, redness, and tearing. And if someone has mild eyes to begin with the feeling is often exacerbated in the winter months. Here are a few quick tips from Dr. Fowler that will help give you some relief.
1- I always start by recommending the fundamental things everyone should be doing, especially in the colder, dryer months. Drink Water!! Lots of it. And take a good quality fish oil. Omega 3's are good for so many things, including dry eyes. 1000 mg is considered a base line dose. If you have dry eyes the therapeutic dose is 1500-2000 mg. This is normally (check the labels) equivalent to 3-4 pills. Tip: take with food- it's better absorbed. I love Nordic Naturals- great quality and no fishy burp taste.
2- Consider supplementing with artificial tears. Your tears are evaporating quicker in the dry air so supplementing can give you some temporay relief. My favorite brands are: 1) Retaine - it's a great lipid based, preservative free artifical tear with great staying power. 2) Fresh Kote- OTC but sometimes a little hard to find- ask the pharmacist to help locate. Sometimes it's behind the counter. 3)Refresh Optive Advanced- A good 4th generation OTC artificial tear. If you find yourself using drops more than a few times a day, consider preservative free drops and this is a sign you need more than supplemental drops. See your optometrist!
3- Warm compresses and lid scrubs. 5-10 mins a day has been shown to improve the function of your Meibomian Glands. These glands are located in your lids and secrete lipids into your tear film. The lipid layer of your tears are key to prevent evaporation of your tears and thus give you comfort. The warmth in a sense "melts" the lipids that might become stagnant or hard in your glands. The lid scrubs can be found OTC and help keep the base of your lashes and glands clean, aiding in better overall function and eye health. These two simple things can often make a drastic difference if you are suffering from dry eyes.
4- See your optometrist! It's always a good idea to be evaluated to confirm the diagnosis. And often, more advanced therapy is needed. For many dry eye patients, I find a prescription of Restasis or a steroid eye drop can be very beneficial and give the overall comfort and therapy that is needed. You do not want to wait until the dry eyes are advanced and your epithelial layer of cells (the outermost protective layer) from your cornea and conjunctiva are sloughing off. Examination by your optometrist can let you know the severity of dryness you may have and the proper care moving forward.
Please feel free to call Hazel Family Eyecare at 770-998-3937 to set up an appointment if you or someone you know is suffering from Dry Eyes.
Stay warm and hydrated, friends!
Dr. Tara L. Fowler, OD, FAAO