Dry Eye Syndrome
Pediatric Eye Clinic Can Help You
Summer is almost here and while warmer days are welcomed by many, for others the hot weather brings with it dry eyes—a condition that can strike anyone..
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that can be exacerbated in summer; just like our bodies, our eyes (specifically, the cornea) can become dehydrated. It’s more prevalent than you might think—anyone can get it and optometrists say it’s one of the most common conditions they see.
Women, especially after menopause, and people aged over 40 are more susceptible to the problem, which is caused by the eye’s inability to maintain a healthy layer of tears to coat it. Air-conditioned office buildings and high computer use can also aggravate the condition.
Symptoms and treatment
Ironically, one of the symptoms of dry eye syndrome is watery eyes. Others include a dry or gritty feeling in the eye, burning or itching, redness, hazy vision and sensitivity to light.
Although there is no way to prevent dry eye syndrome, there are plenty of ways to treat it.
The key is to pinpoint what is causing it, says Health Partners optometrist Kylie Sprumont. “If the cause is a medication, talking to the doctor who prescribed it and asking if there is an alternative may help. If the cause is an underlying systemic disease then treating the disease might help.”
As a general aid, Kylie recommends nutritional supplements: “Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can decrease dry eye symptoms. Good sources of omega-3s include coldwater fish such as sardines, cod, herring and salmon. Flaxseed oil and nuts can also help to relieve dry eyes.”
Lubricating eye drops, gels and ointments can provide relief too, according to Health Partners optometrist Phuong Truong. “Products such as Systane, Refresh and Optive drops used regularly, a few times a day should help. People with sensitive eyes should use single-dose lubricants, rather than the bottles. A hot compress over the eyes for a few minutes daily can also help.&rdquo
In summer, when climate conditions can trigger dry eye syndrome, there are extra tips to help soothe and restore the eyes. Try using a humidifier indoors and reducing air flow from fans and air conditioning. Drinking more water to avoid dehydration and wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop the wind drying out your eyes can also help.
For computer users, Kylie says a few simple tricks should help reduce eye discomfort. “Taking frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest and become moist and comfortable again are helpful. Closing your eyes for 10 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes will increase your comfort, as will blinking more frequently.”
Phuong adds that, “computer users should have their monitor below eye level”.
Did you know
Just like your skin, it’s possible to burn your eyes. The condition is called photokeratitis and symptoms include redness of the eyes, discomfort and sensitivity to light. To help prevent it, wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection and photochromatic lenses, and avoid sun exposure between 10a.m. and 2p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Extra care should be taken with babies and children,whose eyes are more sensitive. “It is important that they are accustomed to wearing sunglasses from as early an age as possible,” says Health Partners optometrist Kylie Sprumont.
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