If you’ve been in Arizona for any appreciable period of time, dry eye disease needs no introduction. The dry feeling, grittiness, burning, sensitivity to light, and feeling that something is constantly in your eye can be relentless. And though we here at The Dry Eye Institute of Arizona have state of the art treatments and prescription medications to help, many of us could benefit from simple treatments you could start today for no cost.
If we’re not giving our bodies enough water, how can we expect our eyes to feel hydrated? The standard recommendation is 8 glasses of water a day, but depending on how you spend your day that may need to be increased – especially for those of us in Arizona. Eight glasses likely won’t cut it for an A/C repairman in August or the busy mom who hits the gym regularly. Monitor your water intake for a few days. It might surprise you how much/little you already drink. Adjust as needed. For more information on this topic, see what the Mayo Clinic has to say here.
Are You Getting Enough To Blink?
We’re supposed to blink 12-15 times a minute. The blinking process refreshes the tear film, but also helps draw out oil from the glands on our eyelids. This oil lubricates and stabilizes the tear film, helping to slow evaporation of tears. When we do near tasks like reading a book or working on a computer, our blink rate drops to 3-6 times a minute. Furthermore, many of us aren’t “good blinkers”. That may sound ridiculous, but it’s not uncommon to see patients do about 3/4 of a complete blink, never drawing out the oil from our glands.
One way to combat this is after 20 minutes of near work, take a 20 second break, look 20 feet in the distance and do complete, eyes-squeezed-shut blinks every other second. This is part of the 20-20-20 rule that we’ll talk about in a separate blog post. You can also download the “Donald Korb Blink Training” app from Tear Science. It’s free and gives you options on blinking exercises, complete with reminders.
Fanning the Fire
This one is a difficult sell for many patients. The idea is to not have a fan on in the room you’re in – including the bedroom during sleeping hours. It’s not uncommon for many people to sleep with their eyes not fully closed, even if they may seem closed to an observer. The circulation of the air dries out the ocular surface and leads to irritation. If this is non-negotiable in your house (I NEED to have a ceiling fan on), a sleep mask is recommended as it will help keep the eyes shut and decrease the air circulation around your eyes.
Have you tried these strategies and still feel uncomfortable? It’s probably time to come in and complete a dry eye consultation. We’ll develop a strategy that meets your specific needs and may include some of our newest medical interventions. To schedule your consultation with The Dry Eye Institute of Arizona, please call our office at 480-656-7739 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.