You know the feeling: scratchy, irritated, raw eyes. But are you making them worse by some of your day-to-day choices? This post looks at some of the biggest culprits when it comes to aggravating dry eyes AND what to do about them.
1. Shopping centres
When it comes to quality of life, dry eyes can stop you from doing the things you enjoy, and one of those things is shopping. Shopping centres are one of the worst culprits when it comes to dry eyes. The combination of dry air and dazzling lights make for a miserable outing. So what can you do?
Rock your sunglasses indoors! Sunglasses are a physical barrier to evaporation and will trap moist air close to your eyes. The more close-fitting and wrap-around in style, the better. Wrap-around sunglasses can offer terrific protection from the drying effects of air-conditioning (as well as glare).
Air travel can play havoc with your eyes. Like shopping centres, the combination of air-conditioning, heat and bright lights can leave you miserable. Watching movies only aggravates the problem, as you tend you blink less while staring at a screen.
- Give the in-flight movies a miss. Lowering your gaze to read or even use a laptop exposes a lot less of your eye than staring straight ahead at a screen.
- Wear a clear eye shield such as Tranquileyes Quartz eye shield, which creates a moisture chamber around your eyes and prevents evaporation. (These comfortable googles also come in black, for use during sleep – see below).
3. Ceiling fans (in bedrooms)
Moving air constantly evaporates moisture from your eyes. That’s why, if you sleep in a room with a fan, you may wake feeling like you’ve got sand in your eyes.
Wear an eye mask. The simple eye masks you get on a flight are better than nothing but you can get much better ones. We recommend sleeping in a Tranquileyes Onyix eye shield.
For an investment of under $100, these black-out eye shades provide comfort though the night – whether you use a ceiling fan or not. (They are also available in a clear (quartz) version as mentioned above).
4. Oral antihistamines
Allergy sufferers the world over thank their lucky stars for antihistamine tablets. These medications can banish itch, redness and swelling in a matter of minutes. This is a huge bonus for people with hay-fever, seasonal allergy or allergies to their pets.
But all oral antihistamines (including modern drugs such as Claratyne) are known to aggravate dry eyes. They reduce watery tear production in the eye, so there are less tears available to flush out the eyes. This also causes an increase in the concentration of inflammatory cells on the surface of the eye.
Swap them for eye-drops. Instead of taking oral antihistamines, ask your practitioner about antihistamine eye drops. The latest topical treatments, such as Zaditen, come in preservative-free options, which are perfect for allergy sufferers.
5. Acne treatments
If you suffer from acne rosacea, you may have been prescribed the drug Isotretinoin (or Roaccutane). This drug is very effective at clearing up your skin.
But there’s a downside. Isotretinoin shrinks the oil glands in the skin – including the ones in your eyelids responsible for producing the oily component of your tears. A lack of oil leads to evaporation of your watery tears. The end result? Dry eyes.
Ask your dermatologist about alternatives to Roaccutane. While it is not quite as efficient as Roaccutane, doxycycline can also clear up your acne. But it has another use: doxycycline can also IMPROVE the function of the oil glands (or meibomian glands) in the eye lids.