Self Help for Your Dry Eye
This is a short section on initial self-help for dry eye. For more information on the background causes of dry eye see the main section of our website.
If you are still experiencing discomfort after following the basic advice below, book a Dry Eye appointment for a detailed assessment and ocular surface examination to enable us to develop a more individualised treatment programme for you.
All the products mentioned below are available from this practice.
Symptoms of Dry Eye include feelings such asgritty, burning, red, scratchy, stinging, watery, irritated, sore, and blurry unstable vision.
This can be a problem at any age but is more common in older people, up to nearly a third of people over 65 years complain of dry eye related problems.
Apart from age, which can’t be helped, there are other reasons for dry eye and attention to the controlling the main culprits should improve symptoms.
- Environment – air conditioning (office or car); long periods staring at a screen without taking a break. 20-20 rule. Take 20 seconds off every 20 minutes.
- Smoking – doesn’t help anything!
- Blinking – inefficient blinks don’t allow the tear layer to reform correctly. The optimal blink should be : Full and Complete, Relaxed and Light, Quick and Rapid, Confident and Natural.
- Diet and hydration – maintain a balanced healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids and adequate hydration.
- Health – Rheumatiod Arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Systemic Lupus can all cause severe dry eye.
- Tear quality and quantity – three layers of tears, all interdependent. Mucin next to the cornea, a thick and changeable watery tear layer, and a topping of lipid (oil). An imbalance will result in poorer lubrication between the lids and the cornea.
Drops – the most common type of dry eye is where the tears are unstable due to evaporation. This may mean that the eyes water too much (but it’s still due to dry eye!) improving the tear quality by improving lubrication is the next step, but which drop?
Try first good long acting drops such as Systane Balance, Hyabak, or Artelac Rebalance. Use these several times a day routinely to keep the corneal surface wet and slippery. Too little use, or only used when your eyes are already sore is pointless.
If you,tend to wake up with sore eyes, apply a good “line” of lubricating long acting gel just before bedtime. Try Vita-POS or Artelac Nightime gel.
Putting drops in – After washing your hands, remove the top of the dropper taking care not to touch it, and tilt your head backwards. Pull down the lower lid to form a pocket with one finger and with the other hand aim the nozzle close to this pocket and squeeze gently. Aim for one drop only.
For ointments and gels it may be easier to lie down.
Lipid Sprays – these act by re-establishing the oily lipid layer which is so important to maintaining balanced tears. The effect is quite long lasting, but can be used up to 4 times a day if you are prone to rubbing your eyes!
Warm Compresses and Lid Hygiene – by warming the eyelid glands, the oils there are softened and mix better with the other tear components. With a short lid massage following Eyebag session, blockages are gradually reduced and the lid margin will become more comfortable. It is probably the single best thing you can do to help your dry eye.
The equipment needed is an Eyebag. This retains the constant heat necessary to work the magic.
Lid hygiene – the lid margin can become crusty, flakey, red, sore and irritated. Routine cleaning using solutions designed for the purpose will be more effective than home-made remedies. Blephasol and OcuSoft are especially recommended.
Use after Eyebag and lid massage.
See Blepharitis for more info.
What works best for some won’t necessarily for others (not all dry eye has the same cause) and the condition isn’t curable – but is manageable. The aim is to develop a practical routine using the best products available for your dry eye, to achieve relative comfort and content.