9 Ways To Beat Dry Eyes
Are You Seeing Red?
If you find yourself frequently dealing with the itching and burning of dry eyes, you're certainly not alone. But allergies, pollution, and an overheated office are not the only causes of red, burning eyes: your age may be the real culprit. After age 40, women see a significant reduction in tear production along with eye-drying hormonal changes, the two major reasons why most women over 40 experience dry eyes. And if you wear contacts, expect the itch and irritation to start even sooner. With a few simple lifestyle tweaks and a little help from artificial tears, you can get quick relief from aging's annoying little side effect.
Use tears liberally
Use artificial tears as often as you like; doctors say that most people underuse artificial tears. "You can use them as often as needed. From once or twice a day to every 20 minutes," says Dr. Monica. These over-the-counter drops will cleanse your eyes and restore the right kind of tears.
If you wear contacts or use artificial tears more than once or twice a day, choose a preservative-free brand. Otherwise, your eyes may sting or your contacts may react adversely to the preservatives, says Dr. Monica.
Don't use medicated eyedrops
Drops such as Murine or Visine are decongestants and shrink the eye's blood vessels, treating redness, not dryness, says Silvia Orengo-Nania, MD, assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Moisten your eyes before blow-drying your hair
To keep from drying your eyes along with your tresses, use artificial tears before and after you blow-dry, says Dr. Monica. For extra measure, moisten your eyes halfway through too.
Humidify your work space
If you suspect that a bone-dry work space is contributing to your problem, put a humidifier near your desk, or if possible, open a window, says Dr. Sumers.
Skip the alcohol
Drinking alcohol can leave your mouth parched. It can dry out your eyes too. If you go out for a social drink, keeping alcohol to a minimum is kinder to your eyes, says Dr. Monica.
Smoking is notorious for causing dry eyes, says Dr. Monica. If you smoke, or if you live with someone who does, using artificial tears will keep your eyes moistened. Quitting, of course, solves the underlying problem.
Wear your lenses part-time
To ease the strain of dry eyes, "remove your lenses at the end of the workday, just like you kick off your shoes," says Dr. Monica. If you have dry eyes, this might be a good idea whether you have daily-wear or extended-wear lenses.
Pretreat at bedtime
If you wake up with scratchy, burning eyes, use a tear ointment before you go to bed, says Dr. Monica. It's thicker than artificial tears and available over-the-counter at your drugstore. It will help keep your eyes lubricated, but it's only for overnight use, because it blurs your vision.
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