Dry, Sore, Irritated Eyes
Living with red and irritated eyes can have a serious impact on everyday life, and dry eye disease (DED) is a common and often overlooked cause. ‘Many of us experience dry eyes not realising it’s a condition that can and should be treated,’ explains Amy Liddell, nutritionist at Scope Ophthalmics, the eye health experts.
‘Eyes can feel “gritty” and dry, but they can also become excessively watery as our eyes over compensate for the dryness by producing more tears. For some, it can be a chronic and persistent condition, which causes irritation on a daily basis. For others, it means occasional periods of discomfort that we often attribute to being tired, but don’t realise it’s a bout of DED. Identifying the problem is the first step to healthier and more comfortable eyes.’
What causes DED?
Environmental triggers, such as the weather, central heating and allergies, are some of the most common causes of dry eye disease. Similarly, wearing contact lenses, waking up dehydrated or long periods of an activity that requires visual concentration, like driving, reading or using computers, can all increase the risk of developing DED.
When your eyes struggle to produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly, your eyes can start to feel dry and uncomfortable. Although DED can affect people at any age, the risk of developing it increases with age, with an estimated 1 in 3 people over 65 experiencing the condition.
Top tips for healthy eyes:
Get regular eye exams
One of the best things you can do for DED is to realise that there is something that can be done about it. Many people think that having dry eyes is a natural part of life, but there are many effective treatments available. If you’re worried that you could have DED, visit your GP or optometrist. Getting a diagnosis and some advice is often the first step to healthier and more comfortable eyes.
Moist Heat Therapy
Applying moist heat to the eyes can dramatically improve the symptoms of dry eye disease. New to market, OPTASE™ Moist Heat Mask, featuring HydroBead™ Technology, absorbs moisture from the air, and once heated, releases a natural, constant moist heat. Moist Heat Therapy loosens the oils in the Meibomian Glands allowing the oil to flow more freely and helps soften eyelash debris. The application of Moist Heat prevents the evaporation of natural tear film, whilst restoring moisture to the eye and surrounding area.
Certain activities, such as reading for long periods or staring at a computer screen or mobile device, mean that we blink less frequently. Blinking less often means that the moisturising tears in your eyes evaporate quicker than they’re produced.
Try the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes of an eye-strenuous activity, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away¹. Adjusting your computer display settings, such as brightness, text size and contrast, can all help protect your eyes while online.
Another environmental factor that can increase the symptoms of DED is dry air. Central heating and air conditioning can both reduce the amount of humidity in a room and mean more tears are needed to keep our eyes hydrated.
In autumn, we begin to rely more and more on central heating, and we leave our windows closed, meaning our rooms, and eyes dry out. Try placing a damp hand towel over a radiator. The towel will create moist air when the radiator is on, allowing you to warm your home without drying the air.
Oh me, oh my, Omega-3
Omega-3’s, the oils found in certain nuts, seeds and fish, are great for your brain, joints and blood, but did you know they’re also great for maintaining good eye health too!
An increasing reliance on cereals, processed foods and vegetable oils and spreads means that most people lack healthy levels of Omega-3.
Boost your intake of Omega-3 by eating foods rich in these fatty acids. One of the richest sources of beneficial Omega-3 fats come from oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel and salmon. To really feel the benefit try Omega Eye (RRP £82.50 for three months), a high-quality supplement from Scope Ophthalmics. The Omega-3 is free from concentrate and alcohol, meaning it’s absorbed by the body easily and leaves you with no fishy taste.
¹Try the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes of an eye-strenuous activity, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away
Source: www.nhs.uk: Dry Eye Syndrome - NHS Choices