Considering how long most of us spend driving or in an office environment, it's not surprising the incidence of dry eye syndrome has increased. At Deirdre Cooke Opticians we understand how irritating dry eye symptoms can be. The good news is that a few changes to routine and lifestyle can make all the difference.
A normal tear film is comprised of three layers. An outer oily layer, a middle water layer and a mucus base layer. The oily layer helps to lubricate the eye, spread the tears and stop the watery part of the tears drying out too quickly. This oil is produced by Meibomian glands which are located along the eyelid margins. These can get blocked and the opening covered in oil. This leads to redness of the lid margins, irritation and can result in yellow spots forming on the lid margins. In response to the lack of oil, the remaining tears evaporate out of the eye more quickly, the eye surface starts to dry and the lacrimal gland (the gland responsible for producing the watery part of your tears) is stimulated to produce more and more tears. This ofen leads to an eye which "runs water". The overall effect means there is a decreased tear volume present so any particles that get into the eye, (dust, lashes etc) aren't washed out as quickly, leading to a feeling of something in the eye.
Over a normal 5 hour period we blink 3,600 times. If we spend those five hours on a computer we only blink 720 times so start blinking now you have read this!
Some environments can induce or exaggerate dry eye symptoms. These include air-conditioned buildings, dry dusty atmospheres, prolonged use of the computer or long plane journeys. Avoiding these situations is advisable for those with extreme symptoms and for others increased management to deal with these environments may be required.
Make sure you take a break every hour from directly viewing the computer screen. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Keep a bowl of water on your desk which will slowly evaporate and keep the air around your work station more moist. Make sure you are not sitting directly under an air conditioning vent or that when driving to and from work the air vents in the car are not directed up towards the eyes. Where possible have your computer monitor angled sideways to windows and light sources. This will minimise any glare and reflections. If you use computers routinely as part of your job, your employers should facilitate you having your eyes examined every two years. This is worth doing as even very small prescriptions can make a difference. At Deirdre Cooke Opticians we can advise on the latest lifestyle lenses which have been specifically designed for the office environment .
EyeBag Hot Compress - The most efficient and effective way to unblock congested tear ducts is by using the EyeBag, which have been designed by Ophthalmologists. This, combined with correct lid massage and used on a regular basis, helps improve the quantity and quality of the oily tear layer.
Heat the EyeBag following the accompanying instructions. Place the EyeBag on the closed eyelids, shiny side next to the eyes. Leave the EyeBag on your eyes until the heat has fully gone from it – this should take approx. 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the EyeBag. Keep eyelids closed, and using your fingertips, firmly massage your lids close to the lash line. Work in a methodical manner from the point closest to your nose outward. Repeat for the lower lid looking upwards. This will have been demonstrated in the practice. Ensure the EyeBag will not burn the skin by testing on your wrist first. Suitable for Coeliac.
Artificial Tears - There is a large range different products on the market to relieve the symptoms of dry eye. They vary from drops designed just to refresh tired eyes right through to ointments necessary for extreme dry eye. Your optometrist will advise on the best product to treat your symptoms. At Deirdre Cooke Opticians, we recommend and stock a range of these products.
Lid Wipes - These sterile, individually packaged wipes are designed to gently and effectively remove debris from your lashes. Debris build up can lead to recurring conjunctival infections, styes and ocular discomfort. These wipes can be used to maintain lid cleanliness and also to prevent spread infection during a flare up.
Diet and Lifestyle - Foods that are rich in Omega 3 and 6 help improve the quality of the oily component of our tears. Certain dairy spreads and foods are fortified with Omega 3 and 6. Linseed and flaxseed are good sources and can be added to cereals, breads etc.
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