The 6 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When You Have Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that occurs when your tears are unable to provide sufficient lubrication for your eyes.

The tear film in your eyes has three layers:

  • Oily outer layer
  • Watery middle layer
  • Inner mucus layer

If these layers do not produce enough oil, water, and mucus, you may develop dry eye syndrome.  

Specialists from a leading eye center in Dubai say that this condition can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Staring at a computer monitor or mobile device for too long
  • Not blinking enough
  • Frequent exposure to wind or dry air
  • Taking certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills, and nasal decongestants
  • Long-term contact lens wear
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Allergies
  • Aging

Common symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • Burning and stinging sensation of the eyes
  • Itchiness and pain
  • Eye redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • A feeling that there is sand or dirt in your eyes

Having dry eyes is uncomfortable and can prevent you from doing some of your usual activities. Additionally, your eyes may also become prone to bacterial infections.

The surface of your eyes can also become inflamed, which can cause scarring on your cornea and affect your vision and eye health.

Preventing Your Dry Eye Syndrome From Worsening

To treat, manage, and avoid aggravating your dry eyes, you need to see an ophthalmologist, especially if you have been suffering from or are bothered by it for a long time already.

Your specialist will prescribe eye drops to lubricate your eyes and make some lifestyle changes to avoid aggravating this condition.

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as medications, lacrimal plugs, contact lenses for dry eyes, and surgery.

As mentioned, making lifestyle changes plays a crucial role in helping you treat and manage dry eye syndrome. This is because there are some activities and habits that can make your condition worse.

Below are six mistakes you might be making that are causing your dry eye syndrome to get worse:

  1. Using the wrong eye drops.

The market is saturated with lubricant eye drops that can help you manage your dry eyes.

Unfortunately, buying one blindly is not a smart idea since the wrong product can do more harm than good to your condition. This is because some eye drops have harsh chemicals and other ingredients that can irritate your eyes and make your symptoms worse.

As such, before buying any over-the-counter eye drops, see an ophthalmologist first. With the right diagnosis, they can prescribe the most suitable product for your condition.

Also, if the eye drops you are currently using are making you uncomfortable or aggravating your eye condition, speak with your doctor immediately.  

  1. Staring at your computer for hours without resting your eyes.

Whether you need to sit in front of your laptop or monitor for hours because of your work or to entertain yourself, you need to let go of this habit as soon as possible.

Staring at a screen for long periods can make you blink less frequently than usual. This, in turn, prevents the tear film from moisturizing and protecting your eyes, thereby leading to dryness and discomfort.

A good way to remember to give your eyes enough rest daily is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. It entails looking at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

If you think you won’t remember to do this every 20 minutes, set a timer on your computer or mobile device to remind you until it becomes a natural part of your routine.

Developing this habit helps you restore and maintain your natural blinking rhythm.

  1. Exposing your eyes to dry air frequently.

Simple habits, such as driving around with the windows down and sunroof open and sleeping with the electric fan on full blast directly in front of you, can also worsen your dry eye syndrome.

Exposing your eyes to dry air constantly can damage the tear film that provides oxygen to the eyes and protects the surface of the cornea. As a result, your symptoms will likely be aggravated and you’ll feel more discomfort.

To manage your dry eyes better and reduce your discomfort, minimize your exposure to dry air whether you are at home, your office, or on the road.

Also, always wear sunglasses, particularly the wraparound type, to protect your eyes if you’re going out during hot and windy days.

  1. Not getting enough sleep.

Adequate sleep plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy. It helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, improve your focus, and boost your immune system.

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night also helps you manage the symptoms of your dry eyes and prevent them from worsening.

This is because lack of sleep and insomnia can prevent your eyes from getting the necessary fluid circulation.

This fluid plays the crucial role of cleaning and refreshing the eyes, keeping them lubricated and helping prevent you from developing the condition.

Additionally, tired eyes often feel dry, thereby increasing your level of discomfort.

Because of these reasons, try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, even on weekends.

  1. Falling asleep with your contact lenses.

If you wear contact lenses, you are already susceptible to dry eye syndrome, which is why you have to use the recommended eye drops as prescribed by your ophthalmologist.

Contact lenses also stick to your corneas in order to work, causing dryness and irritating your eyes. This is true even if they are suitable for overnight wear.

Unfortunately, your eyes can become even more parched every time you sleep with your contacts on since you deprive them of the oxygen and nutrients they need.

As such, always remove your contact lenses before going to sleep, no matter how tired and sleepy you are.

  1. Smoking and exposing yourself to cigarette smoke.

Lastly, long-term tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke are unhealthy for your lungs, heart, skin, teeth, and eyes.

Tobacco smoke can also irritate anyone’s eyes. However, it can even be more problematic for people with dry eyes.

This is because the smoke can harm the lipid layer of your eye, which keeps everything lubricated and prevents your tears from evaporating fast.

Additionally, cigarette smoke reduces the nutrients your eyes receive from the food you consume, potentially causing a breakdown in the tear film.

This can happen because of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

If you smoke, quit this unhealthy habit as soon as possible. Minimize your exposure to tobacco as well.

When you avoid these mistakes and follow your ophthalmologist’s advice, you can manage your dry eye syndrome symptoms successfully and be more comfortable as you use your eyes daily.

AUTHOR BIO

Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.