Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes

Currently, about 16 million people in the United States are affected by dry eyes, according to National Eye Institute. This condition may cause one to suffer a stinging and gritty feeling in the eye, redness, inflammation, and heightened light sensitivity.

Even those with the healthiest pair of eyes can come down with a case of dryness, an occurrence when the body doesn’t produce enough tears, the tear film does not possess the quality needed to maintain good eye health, or the tear film is not draining properly from the eye. Tears are made up of water, fatty oils, and mucus to keep eyes perfectly hydrated and clean. When not appropriately produced, a person will likely experience dryness.

In addition to tear-related causes, other known eye dryness causes include staring at screens for an extended period, having heaters or air conditioners up too high, and frequently wearing contact lenses. Wearers of contact lenses know this too well because the lens on the cornea limits the oxygen flow needed by the eyes to develop natural tears.

The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes are increasing tear production, applying over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, and treating inflamed areas of the eyes. Since there is no exact cure for it, it is always better to avoid it from happening. Below are some of the ways to prevent dry eyes.

  • Maintain a good hydration

Since the human body is comprised of more than 50% water, it is no surprise that dehydration can lead to vision problems and many other health impacts. Production of tears is only achieved when the body is properly hydrated, so to avoid dryness of the eyes, one must drink the right amount of water daily. For healthy adults, experts recommend drinking six to eight glasses a day.

It can be a task that is easy to forget, so to ensure that you drink enough, keep a water bottle with you at all times. You may also set a self-reminder to take in more fluids after engaging in physical activities.

  • Maintain a proper diet

Eating healthily can do wonders for eye health as well as for the entire body. While drinking plenty of water helps overall hydration and tear production, incorporating foods good for the eyes in the diet is equally important in increasing tear production.

The Optometrist Network team suggests eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as they have been proven to help maintain general ocular health and decrease dry eye symptoms. Omega fatty acids work by stabilizing the oil layer in the tear film, thus effectively lubricating the eyes. Some of the biggest sources of this nutrient are fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna. Nuts and seeds like flaxseed, walnuts, almonds and chia are also good sources.

In addition to omega fatty acids, certain vitamins (A, B2, B6, B12, C, and E) also help relieve dry eyes by protecting eyes against cell damage and improving tear film functioning. Examples of foods rich in these vitamins include carrots, spinach, liver, avocado, and whole-grain products.

  • Avoid places with a lot of air movement

Places with a lot of air movement dry out the eyes, so limit your exposure to hair dryers and fans. When outdoors during windy days, wearing protective eyewear like wraparound sunglasses can help. Pairing them with contact lenses that have a UV filter feature can further provide excellent protection.

Another situation that can dry eyes out is being at high altitudes such as in the the airplane because the air up there is dry and can make tears evaporate. If you’re spending time in such an environment, try closing your eyes for a few minutes to prevent tear evaporation.

  • Use eye drops to moisturize the eyes

Eye drops come in different types and are ideal for preventing and relieving dry eyes. The artificial tear type is the most commonly used for this purpose because it helps keep the eyes’ surface moist. Depending on the brand, artificial tears can be made of electrolytes (like sodium and potassium), guar gum, lubricants, or preservatives—all used for the purpose of mimicking real tears.

When using eye drops, one should watch out for the ingredients because some may be allergic to preservatives, which may worsen dry eyes.

Keeping a bottle of eye drops in a bag, desk, or near the bed can help in ensuring eye comfort throughout the day. Since they come in small bottles, one tends to forget or leave them around somewhere.

  • Be strict with screen time

Dry eyes and digital eye strain are the two most common results of spending many hours of screen time due to work or playing computer games. Staring at the screen while concentrating causes a person to blink less, which may possibly dry the eyes out. It is therefore recommended by experts to take regular breaks when facing the screen. Take time to take a cup of tea or coffee throughout the day to make those necessary breaks.

If you’re not used to doing that, the 20-20-20 rule could be useful and easier to remember. This rule says: look away from the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at an object that is 20 feet away. Aside from this, it is also advisable to set up computer equipment correctly—the screen should be at eye level, more than 40 cm away, and the brightness and font size must be adjusted to where the eyes are comfortable.

Reading and other tasks that require visual concentration normally require periodic eye breaks as well. When doing these activities, close your eyes for a few minutes or blink repeatedly for a few seconds. This  will help spread the tears over your eyes to lubricate the entire surface.


For other eye care tips, check out 6 New Year Resolutions to Include for Healthy Eyes.


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