Articles On Dry Eye: Causes & Remedies
- What Causes Dry Eyes?
- Relief Tips
- Home Remedies
- Eye Drop Types
- When to See a Doctor
- Non-Medical Dry Eyes
- Video: Soothing Dry Eyes
If your eyes sting and burn, look red, or feel gritty — as if some sand is stuck in them — you may have dry eye. This condition can happen when the tiny glands in and around your eyelids don’t make enough tears to keep your peepers healthy and vision clear.
When tears do their job well, they keep the surface of the eye smooth, comfortable, and hydrated, and wash away dust and debris and protect it from infection. Healthy eyes make tears all day, every day, to stay moist.
But sometimes certain diseases, medications, or even just getting older causes your eyes to make fewer tears. Dry eye can also happen when your eyes don’t make the right type of tears to clear out particles or keep the surface well-lubricated.
What you do to make your baby blues, browns, or greens more comfortable depends on what’s causing your dry eyes.
In some cases, your doctor may need to treat an underlying issue or disease; or theyВ may prescribe special medications to help your eyes make more of their own tears, or suggest ways to stop tears from draining away from your eyes too quickly.
There are also steps you can take yourself to ease the scratchy, irritating symptoms of dry eyes. Try these simple home remedies to find relief:
Tears are made of oil, water, and mucus. Your eyes need all three parts to stay moist and healthy. Inflamed and flaky eyelids may clog the oil-making glands along the edge of your lid and lead to dry eye.
To help ease irritation and loosen clogged oils, wet a clean washcloth with warm water, wring it out, and place it over your closed eye for at least a minute. Gently press the edge of your eyelid with your finger to help squeeze out the clogged oils. The moist heat helps loosen up the clogged oils in the glands. Wet the cloth often, so it stays warm. You may need warm compresses every day to help lower inflammation, even after your eyes feel better.
Wash Crusty Lashes
Cleaning your eyelids, as well as the surrounding skin and hair, can help get any lid inflammation under control. Drop a bit of baby shampoo or mild soap on your fingertips and gently massage your closed eye, near the base of your eyelashes.
Staring at a computer curbs the amount of times you blink per minute. So try to blink often when youвЂ™re online. Follow the 20/20 rule: close your eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
Another simple trick to keep your eyes moist when at the computer: Set your screen below eyeВ level.В You won’t have to open your eyes as wide, which may help slow tear evaporation between blinks.
Eat (Naturally) Oily Fish
Salmon and tuna, for example, or sardines, trout, and mackerel all contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests these healthy fats help the oil-making glands in your eye work better, which can ease irritation.
Other foods naturally high in omega-3 fats include walnuts, vegetable oils (like canola and soybean oil), and flaxseed. You can also take omega-3 fatty acids as a pill or tablet. Talk your doctor before you start any new supplement, just to make sure it wonвЂ™t affect any conditions you have or medicines you take.
Every part of your body needs water to stay healthy, including your eyes. Drinking water helps keep them moist.
But don’t wait until you’re thirsty to sip water. By then, you may already be slightly dehydrated.
Instead, aim for eight to 10 glasses throughout the day. If you donвЂ™t like plain water, any other liquid that doesnвЂ™t have alcohol or caffeine will do. Water-rich foods — like cucumbers and watermelon — also count.
One way to know if you are well-hydrated: Check your pee. If it’s colorless or light yellow, you’re likely getting enough fluids.
Wear Wraparound Sunglasses
This style can help protect your eyes from drying winds, which cause tears to evaporate more quickly. At home, avoid blowing air from your hair dryer, air conditioner, or fan toward your eyes.
Use a Humidifier and a Filter
This can add moisture to dry indoor air. Putting a pan of water near your heat or radiator has the same effect. An air cleaner that filters dust and other particles may also help prevent dry eyes.
Dos and DonвЂ™ts for Drops
Over-the-counter eye drops work just like your own tears and may help. There are many different brands. Some have preservatives added so they last longer, but using those too often may irritate your eyes. Non-preservative eye drops are also available, as well as thicker ointments. Your doctor can let you know if these would help or if you need something else.
What doesn’t work for dry eyes: drops that take away redness, which, over time, can irritate your eyes more.
National Eye Institute: “Facts About Dry Eye.”
The Mayo Clinic: “Dry Eyes,” “Do You Drink Enough Water?” “Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?”
American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Dry Eye,” “Facts About Tears,” “Blepharitis,” “Can Fish Oil Help Dry Eye?”
American Optometric Association: “Dry Eye.”
International Journal of Ophthalmology: “A randomized Controlled Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dry Eye Syndrome.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Drink Up: Getting the Water Your Body Needs.”
- Medical Author: Rohini Radhakrishnan, ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon
- Medical Reviewer: Pallavi Suyog Uttekar, MD
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition in adults, children and animals that is the result of a decreased production of tears or quick evaporation of the tear film. The condition can affect one or both eyes, and it can lead to irritation, inflammation and infection.
While dry eye syndrome can occur at any age and in otherwise healthy people, it is especially common for the following individuals:
- People who work on the computer for long hours
- People who use contact lenses
- People who work in dry and hot workplaces
- People with nutrient deficiencies
- Older people
In addition, dry eyes may be caused by some oral medications used to treat acne, colds, blood pressure, and mood disorders.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
Treatment for dry eye syndrome largely depends on the cause of your condition. So, it is best to consult with your doctor first to identify the reason. The goal of treatment is to keep your eyes lubricated and treat the underlying cause.
Treatment options include
- Eye drops:
- Artificial tear eye drops
- Doctors may prescribe cyclosporine eye drops to reduce inflammation and increase the production of tears. However, you should not use these drops if you have an eye infection or a history of herpes viral infection of the eye.
- Doctors may prescribe antibiotic drops or ointments for infections in the eyes or eyelids.
- Sometimes, they may prescribe an oral antibiotic such as tetracycline or doxycycline.
- Steroid eye drops can reduce inflammation if symptoms remain severe, even after the frequent use of eye drops.
Oral medication: Doctors may prescribe antibiotics, antiviral medications or oral steroids if dryness is secondary to an eye infection.
Surgery: Certain conditions may result in complications of the eyelid, such as incomplete closure of the eye due to facial nerve paralysis and tear glands or tear duct disorders that cause dry eyes. These conditions can be treated with surgery.
Home remedies: Various home remedies can help relieve dry eyes. However, you should continue to take the medication prescribed by your doctor along with these remedies.
Taping the eyelids closed if there is difficulty closing the eyes completely (facial nerve palsy)
Wearing wraparound glasses to protect the eyes from wind and hot air
Consciously blinking more frequently while watching TV or using a computer
Avoiding smoking, exposure to smoke and other pollutants, and keeping air conditioning at a moderate temperature
Using humidifiers at home to help moisten the air
Wearing moisture-chamber spectacles as goggles
Using over-the-counter artificial tear eye drops that can lubricate mildly dry eyes
Cleaning the eyelids using cotton or a soft cloth dipped in clean warm water (distilled water) can help get rid of debris and discharge
Using warm water compresses over the eyelids
Gently massaging the eyelid in a circular motion using a clean finger to help drain discharge from the tear glands
What are the complications of dry eyes?
Dry eye syndrome may lead to several complications if it persists. Though people with milder dry eyes may not experience long-term effects, severe symptoms can lead to inflammation, infection and ulceration of the corneal surface of the eyes. Such ulceration can be painful and result in scarring that affects the person’s vision.
What are the signs and symptoms of dry eyes?
A person with dry eye syndrome may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- A feeling of dryness of the eyes
- A feeling of grittiness or foreign body sensation
- Soreness of the eyes
- Redness of the eyes
- Stinging or burning sensation of the eyes
- Discharge or mucus in and around the eyes (especially stringy mucous)
- Sensitivity to smoke or wind
- Sensitivity to light and digital screens
- Eye fatigue
- Difficulty keeping eyelids open
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Watering of the eyes
- Discomfort while wearing contact lenses
- Eyelids sticking together when waking up
- Crusting in the eyelids
- Swelling of the eyelids
Dry eye is a common condition that affects many people. The eyes lose their moisture and become irritated, inflamed, and red. To reduce the severity of dry eyes, many people should try using an eye mask for dry eyes at night . On this page, we will break down all that you need to know on this topic.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is an eye condition that occurs when the natural oil produced in the eye to keep it moist is not enough. This results in the eyes becoming irritated, inflamed, and difficult to use. It can be caused by several things such as lack of adequate blinking or blinking more than usual and specific medications, old age, seasonal allergies, and other skin conditions.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes occur due to a deficiency in tears due to an imbalance between tear production and tear loss. The eyelids, which are responsible for keeping the eyes moist, may not do their job correctly. This results in decreased tear production at the end of each day. Some people’s eyes do not produce enough of the natural oils necessary to keep them healthy and moisturized. This can be caused by things such as aging, medical conditions, and corneal nerve desensitivity.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The symptoms of dry eyes are redness, lack of tears, and inflammation. Some people may even experience burning or pain in the eyes, while others note that their vision is hazy or blurred. If left untreated, these symptoms may worsen over time until blinking increases tear loss and dryness.
Home Remedies for Dry Eyes
If you have dry eyes, you probably want to take care of them as much as possible without breaking the bank. Here are some home remedies that you can try if you suffer from dry eyes:
Drinking plenty of water will help keep your eyes moist and healthy. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Drinking ice-cold water can make the problem worse , so it is best to avoid cold liquids altogether.
Eye drops are available in different forms, such as gel or ointment form and preservative-free artificial tears, which may be more soothing for sensitive eyes. You can also create homemade eye drops by adding one drop of vitamin E oil into an empty eye dropper bottle. Then fill the bottle with spring water to the top. Shake well and use a few drops in each eye as needed.
Rest your Eyes
Resting your eyes is very helpful if you suffer from dry eyes. Keeping them closed will help keep them moist and healthy, so try to relax by taking short naps or reading an engaging book for about 20 minutes each day. You can also close your eyes while soaking in a warm bath or sitting near a cozy fire for some relief.
Applying warm compresses over the affected area is another home remedy for dry eyes that you may find helpful. This helps bring relief from any stinging sensations that you might be experiencing due to low tear production and swelling of the lids, which are common conditions associated with dry eyes.
Using an Eye Mask to Help with Dry Eyes
Use eye masks to help with dry eyes . These are small, tight-fitting cloths that hold moisture and warmth close to the eye and, therefore, can be used to remedy inflammation. Things like a dry eye heat mask or a simple eye mask for dry eyes at night can go a long way towards helping you out.
How to Get Relief from Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
If you suffer from dry eyes, try to avoid things that may cause the problem to worsen. For example, suppose you work in an environment with very low temperatures or smoke cigarettes. In that case, it is best for you to limit these activities and get yourself checked by a doctor regularly. If you work on the computer all day, for example, try using a filter that makes the screen easier on your eyes. While sleeping, use an eye mask to help with dry eyes.
Prevention Methods for Dry Eye Syndrome and Home Remedies
If you are using products containing preservatives and chemicals that may irritate your eyes, try using natural products instead. If you have irritable or sensitive eyes, it is best to limit the use of cosmetics unless they are hypoallergenic and non-irritating. Avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight can help you prevent dry eyes as well.
How Does an Eye Mask for Dry Eyes at Night Works?
Eye masks for dry eyes at night work by holding moisture and warmth close to the affected area. This helps reduce any inflammation that is occurring or improve comfort levels in those with a chronic condition. For best results, it is crucial to choose an eye mask to help with dry eyes that have been designed specifically for this purpose and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using it.
How Can I Stop My Eyes from Getting Dry?
If you are concerned about developing dry eyes, try not to rub or pull at your eyes too frequently, as this can cause irritation and inflammation. If you wear contact lenses while sleeping, remove them before going to bed so that they do not irritate your eyes during the night. Also, avoid wearing makeup if possible and stop smoking because both of these activities may increase the risk of developing dry eyes.
Need Some More Help?
Do you suffer from dry eyes? If so, a few home remedies such as an eye mask to help with dry eyes can help your condition. Warm compresses and a dry eye heat mask should relieve inflammation or discomfort caused by low tear production and swollen lids. Resting the eyes is also essential to keep them moistened when not in use.
In the end, these remedies are just temporary treatments, and if symptoms persist, it is best to see a doctor who can perform tests to pinpoint the underlying cause. Therefore, only consider buying an eye mask for dry eyes at night while doing other forms of treatment for best results.
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Step-by-step guide on treating and relieving dryness around the eyes.
Dry skin around the eyelids can be common during the winter months. The cold air dries the skin out, but it doesn’t have to be cold outside for flakiness to appear around the eyes. Dry skin under the eyes can affect anyone, at any time – although those with skin conditions like eczema, are more likely to suffer. As the skin under the eyes and on the eyelids is thinner than on some parts of the body , such as on the soles of the feet, it is less able to retain moisture, leaving it vulnerable to drying out.
The symptoms of dry, flaky skin around the eyes aren’t pretty, and definitely aren’t comfortable. Dryness, itchiness, flakiness, soreness, irritation, and even swelling can be common side effects. Pinpointing the exact cause of dry skin on eyelids isn’t always simple, as many things can cause the symptoms to appear. Harsh shampoos that run down your face during a shower, irritants in cosmetics, harsh facial cleansers, soaps, and sunburn are some of the usual suspects.
Whatever the cause may be, you need to take action! Being proactive and caring for the delicate skin around your eyes with the right techniques will help you restore and maintain a soft, healthy looking complexion.
Dry Skin Around the Eyes? Here’s How to Deal with It
Remove Any Irritants
The first step in getting your skin back to looking smooth and healthy is to remove anything from your face care regime that could be drying the skin out and making the problem worse. Some make-up removers can draw out moisture from the skin, which is often more noticeable in sensitive areas like the area around the eye. Use a gentle, alcohol-free makeup remover to prepare your skin for step 2 – and remember to avoid getting any product directly in your eyes.
Be sure to wash your face every day and pay particular attention to the eye area. Fresh, warm (not too hot) water will help to make sure that all dirt, oil, and irritants are removed from your face, getting rid of any impurities that could be harmful to your eyes. Remember that harsh soaps and cleansers could be a cause of dry, flaky skin under eyes, so choose a gentle, soap-free cleanser or face wash that won’t dry the skin out. Pat your face dry before moving onto step 3.
Use Vaseline® Jelly Under the Eyes
Now that your skin is clean and dry, it’s time to apply a moisturizer to the skin that will help keep moisture in and keep skin from drying out. Putting a thin layer of Vaseline® Jelly under the eyes will lock in moisture, and form a protective barrier. This layer of protection will stop cold weather and irritants from making the problem worse. In fact, regular application of petroleum jelly for dry, flaky skin on eyelids will help to speed up the dry skin healing process.
Remember to be careful when applying any product to the eye area, and to follow the directions on the label. If you do accidentally get any Vaseline Jelly in your eye, don’t worry. Vaseline® Jelly is lipophilic, meaning it will only dissolve in fats and oils. The layer of moisture that protects your eye will stop the jelly from dissolving. Simply wipe away any excess with a damp washcloth.
Some lotions and moisturizers can actually aggravate dry skin. Try switching to products specifically designed for dry or sensitive skin. Products marked as hypoallergenic, like Vaseline® Jelly Original, are ideal as they’re formulated to reduce the possibility of irritation or allergic reaction.
We recommend applying Vaseline® Jelly on eyelids because some regular moisturizers and creams are not always safe to use on the eye area. The skin around the eyes is much more sensitive to irritants, so it’s best to use a hypoallergenic product that contains pure ingredients. The original ‘Wonder Jelly’ is filtered three times – so you can be rest assured that the little blue jar of Vaseline® Jelly on your nightstand is made from 100 percent pure petroleum jelly, making it safe to use on your face.
Applying Vaseline® Jelly under eyes is a tried-and-tested way to lock in moisture, keeping skin in the eye area soft and elastic, and rejuvenating skin that looks dry and tired.
Even though we may lead busy lives, it’s important to try to keep up with a regular cleansing and moisturizing routine – don’t wait for your eyes to get sore before treating them. Instead make putting Vaseline® Jelly under your eyes and other sensitive areas of the face part of your bedtime ritual. A good night-time beauty regime, incorporating Vaseline® Jelly, can make a big difference to the look and feel of dry skin.
The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice, it is solely available for information purposes.
If your eyes are red and feel dry and irritated on a regular basis, it may be due to dry eyes, formally known as keratitis sicca. At NationWide Vision we help patients become well informed about their eyes issues and treatment options, and dry eyes are among the most common issues our patients deal with.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
There are a number of reasons a person can develop dry eyes. If you’re experiencing the effects of a dysfunctional tear-flow system, it may be because of:
- Eyelids that don’t close properly
- Diseases that affect the ability to produce tears
- Certain medications
Dry Eyes Treatment
There is no guaranteed cure for dry eyes, but there are solutions you can incorporate into your daily routine, such as:
- Artificial teardrops or ointments: This is the most effective solution for dry eyes because it helps keep the eye well-lubricated.
- Restasis: A prescription eye drop that helps stimulate your body’s ability to produce tears.
- Lipiflow: A device that uses heat and pressure to relieve blocked oil glands, which are responsible for supporting the tear film.
- Non-dissolving punctual plugs: Plugs are placed near the drainage system of the eye to stop tears from escaping, thus increasing the tear level.
- Supplements and medications: Steroid eye drops and fish oil may also help with dry eye symptoms.
Dry Eye Syndrome
When the eye doesn’t produce quality tears, it’s difficult to remove particles and effectively lubricate the eye. If this is an ongoing issue, it’s referred to as chronic dry eyes, and the symptoms commonly seen include dryness, irritation, redness, and sometimes patients may feel as if there is something in the eye, also known as “foreign body sensation.”
Why is tear lubrication important? The eye needs tears to create a proper film for the surface of the eye because it removes debris and uses enzymes to neutralize microorganisms. To treat chronic dry eyes, your eye doctor will need to find out whether the cause is:
- Lacrimal or associated glands near the eye that aren’t stimulating enough tear production
- The meibomain glands are reducing oil output.
Best Contacts For Dry Eyes
Do your contacts make your eyes feel dry? That’s a common complaint amongst patients, but there is good news for contact wearers. There are a number of lenses and eye care products that can help alleviate dryness, irritation, and redness, such as:
- Silicone hydrogel contact lenses
- Soft contact lenses
- Daily disposable contact lenses
Contact NationWide Vision For More Information
Patients with dry eyes will struggle daily unless they seek the appropriate care. Please contact Nationwide Vision for more information pertaining to dry eye treatment options. Optimal eye health depends on proper tear film. Call 1-800-EYECARE to schedule an appointment today!
Written By Soumya Tamatam On March 02, 2020
This blog post is based on scientific evidence, written and fact checked by our doctors.
Our team of dermatologists and formulators strive to be objective, unbiased and honest.
This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses are clickable links to research papers from reputed academic organizations.
We feel you. Dry, itchy and flaky skin around your eyes can be annoying! But can your regular moisturizer help in this case? Err..maybe not! To understand its causes and treatments, we talked to our chief dermatologist Dr. Harish Koutam, an accredited member of Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) and Cosmetic Surgeons of India.
- What Causes Dry Skin Around Your Eyes?
- How To Treat Dry Skin Around Your Eyes?
- Home Remedies To Treat Dry Skin Around Your Eyes
- How To Prevent Dry Skin?
- When to See Your Doctor?
What Causes Dry Skin Around Your Eyes?
The skin around your eyes is thinner compared to the skin on the rest of your face. This means that it can’t retain moisture and becomes dry over time. It can get very uncomfortable too with all the flakiness, itchiness, cracks and redness.
Some Of The Major Causes Of Dry Skin Around Your Eyes Are:
- Climatic conditions (extremely hot or cold weather)
- Improper makeup practices
- Harsh skin care ingredients
- Harsh rubbing
- Use of hot water
- Exposure to irritants
However, There Can Be Other Underlying Skin Conditions Causing Dryness Around Your Eyes:
1. Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that arises when your skin interacts with an irritant . It leads to dry, red and flaky skin. Certain hair products, face washes, moisturizers, sunscreen, dust and makeup are some of the irritants responsible for contact dermatitis. Fragrances in skin care products can also cause contact dermatitis. You can spread this condition if you touch your eyelid immediately after touching the product.
2. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis affects the skin on your eyelids. Symptoms include scaling, redness, itching and oozing in some cases . Risk factors are family history, immune system or the environment. This condition is chronic and mostly occurs in children.
Blepharitis is caused by a bacteria or an existing condition like rosacea. It leads to scales on the eyelids, redness, irritation, burning and tearing .
How To Treat Dry Skin Around Your Eyes?
Irrespective of your skin type, make it a habit to apply a moisturizer . Invest in a good eye cream  that is formulated with ingredients suited for the delicate skin around your eyes. The more good news? Eye creams also contain anti-aging ingredients.
2. Adequate Sleep
Lack of sleep leads to fatigued eyes and dry skin around your eyes. Get at least six hours of sleep every night. This will allow your body to repair the damaged and dry skin around your eyes.
Harmful UV rays from the sunlight can lead to a breakdown of collagen and elastin in your skin. The result being fine lines and wrinkles. Protect the skin around your eyes by applying a broad spectrum sunscreen  every time you step out. Don’t ignore the upper eyelids.
4. Topical Corticosteroids
Your doctor may recommend topical corticosteroids  in case you have an underlying skin condition. Mild corticosteroids should be used as strong ones tend to thin out the skin around your already sensitive and thin skin.
5. Massage With Essential Oils
Massaging improves blood circulation in the skin around your eyes. You can choose from flaxseed oil, chamomile oil, lavender oil, rose oil or lemon oil. Dab a few drops of the oil around your eye and gently massage in circular movements.
Be careful and do not get any oil into the eye. Do not rub the oil in a way that you pull out the delicate skin accidentally.
Home Remedies To Treat Dry Skin Around Your Eyes
1. Aloe Vera Gel
It is extremely soothing, moisturizing and helps in the synthesis of collagen to fight anti-aging.
2. Almond Oil
Almond oil helps heal dry skin as it is a great emollient.
3. Vitamin E Oil
Besides treating dry skin, vitamin E oil helps in anti-aging.
Yogurt or butter are known to elevate moisture levels in your skin.
5. Green Tea Bags
Green tea has skin renewal and skin soothing benefits.
6. Rose Water
Rosewater has calming and anti-inflammatory properties.
How To Prevent Dry Skin?
1. Pay Attention To What You Put On Your Skin
Make sure you read the ingredients on the labels before buying skin care. Harsh skin care products tend to dry out the skin around your eyes. Say no to alcohol, fragrances, dyes, sulfates, parabens, harsh cleansers and scrubs.
2. Watch What You Eat
Hydration is important for your skin. Eat a lot of antioxidant rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, greens and nuts. Steer clear of cola, processed foods, chocolates and sugars.
3. Don’t Stress Out Your Skin
You may be tempted to wash your face with hot water after a long tiring day, but stop! Hot water around the yes can strip your skin off the natural oils (sebum), making it dry. Do not rub the area around your eyes while cleansing or scrubbing. Handle this delicate skin with extra care.
4. Avoid Touching
Touching or rubbing your eyes can cause harm to the skin around your eyes. You may accidentally transfer germs or bacteria from your hands to the skin around your eyes.
5. Use Eye Goggles
Even if you are using sunscreen, make sure you cover your eyes with goggles. Doing this can protect your skin around your eyes from humid conditions, sunlight, dust and other irritants.
6. Remove Makeup Before Sleeping
The ingredients in your makeup can dry your skin if left overnight. Remove makeup around your eyes before you sleep.
- Apply eye makeup remover to a cotton pad.
- Press the pad on your skin very gently and drag it in an outward motion.
- Repeat this step until your skin is completely off the makeup.
When To See Your Doctor?
Dry skin that lasts for many months or years (chronic dry skin) can make your skin less elastic and lead to sagging. The cracks in the skin around your eyes can cause skin infections.
See a Doctor If
- Dryness is getting worse
- Your eyelids have remained dry for a long time
- You experience other symptoms along with dryness around your eyes
We hope you find comfort in these dermatologist-recommended ways to manage dry skin around your eyes. Also make sure to follow a good skin care routine for healthy, balanced and glowing skin.
Sponsored by Natural Ophthalmics, Inc.
By Elise Brisco, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, CCH
How do your eyes feel at the end of the day? If you are like the majority who are literally staring at a computer or cell phone for much of the day, or part of the growing aging population, you’d probably answer, “My eyes are often tired and dry.”
Chronic dry eyes affect as high as 87.5% (Fenga et al) of computer users and 73.5% (Uchini et al) of the elderly population. It is the number one vision problem that optometrists and ophthalmologists treat. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is becoming an epidemic because our work, play and socialization has shifted from working with our bodies, to working with our eyes.
Symptoms of DES include fluctuating vision, tired eyes, redness, burning, foreign body sensation, excessive tearing, itching and recurring eye infections. Causes include heavy digital use, stress, age, sleep deprivation, menopause, allergies, medication (i.e. antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, birth control pills, beta-blockers and hormone replacement therapy), low humidity environments, lid disease and contact lens wear.
Staring at a computer or digital device decreases your blink rate by 60% so oily tears are not spread over the eyes to lubricate and nourish them. Combine this with stress or inadequate sleep which compromises the immune system. These tears end up coagulating in the meibomian glands with the unchecked bacteria flora.
Traditional treatment for dry eyes has been: artificial tears, punctal plugs, prescription eye drops: Restasis and Xiidra, steroid drops, antibiotic drops, autologous serum drops (preparing eye drops from your own plasma) and managing prescription drugs that cause dry eyes.
The problem is that many of these treatments do not adequately address the underlying causes of dry eyes: inadequate production or poor quality tears, stress and clogged oily tear glands (meibomian glands). Also, many of these eye drops contain preservatives that further irritate the eyes.
Addressing the underlying cause of dry eyes improves the likelihood of making your patients more comfortable, while also treating the problem. Here is an integrative approach that you can use to help your patients with DES.
- Use homeopathic tear stimulation drops instead of artificial tears or prescription eye drops, which may feel good when you apply the drops, but do not have a long-lasting benefit. Homeopathic tear stimulation drops trigger release of all three layers of your own tears: mucous, oily and aqueous. I have had wonderful success with both the Tear Stimulation Forte Drops and Women’s Tear Stimulation Drops by Natural Ophthalmics. It has helped patients with everything from Dry Eye Syndrome to Sjogren’s Syndrome. The women’s formula has two added ingredients which address dry eyes due to hormonal changes from aging. 1 Homeopathic medications are all FDA approved, and are cited in at least two Materia Medicas with provings of their efficacy.
- Unclog plugged meibomian glands that become clogged over time with the oily tears and bacteria. I use both an in-office and home heated eye massage to open the meibomian glands to get the tears flowing, and bacteria out. In the office I use the Mibo Thermaflow which is a therapeutic medical device that effectively liquifies the clogged oily tear ducts and evacuates bacteria by heating the lid safely and comfortably to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. For home treatment, I give patients an infrared heated mask which not only heats, but also promotes healing with the infrared heat. To treat the bacteria that is expressed with the heated massage, I prescribe Zocular foam, which is an okra-based product to decrease the bacteria and moisturize the eye lids.
- Improve tear quality and quantity from the inside out with omega 3’s. Only 2 formulas have been clinically proven to do this: HydroEye by Science Based Health, and Ultra Dry TG by OcuSci, Inc. 2,3
- Treat co-existing allergies with Allergy Desensitization Drops by Natural Ophthalmics which decreases the over-reaction to pollens the same as taking allergy shots. The two main ingredients in Natural Ophthalmics’ Allergy Desensitization Drops, Apis mellifica and Sabadilla, have been clinically shown to increase stability of basophils by decreasing their degranulation. 4,5 Allergic conjunctivitis aggravates dry eyes by irritating tear production glands to diminish tear production. In turn, insufficient production and release of tears decreases the eye’s ability to flush away airborne allergens such as pollen and dander, which exacerbate the allergic conjunctivitis.
Summary: DES is the number one eye problem that patients present with in an eye care practitioner’s office. The first step in treating dry eyes is to ask patients how their eyes feel at the end of the day, then connecting the symptoms to DES. After that, the problem can be diagnosed using several tests including meibography (infrared imaging of meibomian oily tear glands using the Meibox), tear break up test, meibomian gland manual expression, and Phenol Red Thread Test or Schirmer’s Test. Once the diagnosis is made, the key is to treat the underlying cause rather than simply using artificial tears which don’t get to the root of the problem.
About the Author
Elise Brisco, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, CCH is the Chief Medical Advisor for Natural Ophthalmics in Dillon, Colorado. She is also the co-founder of the Rehabilitative Vision Clinic at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Director of the Integrated Wellness Clinic. Dr. Brisco is in private practice focusing on integrative optometry with an emphasis on rehabilitation and children’s vision at the Hollywood Vision Center Optometry and Homeopathy, Inc.
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A primary symptom of Sjögren’s, more than thirty million Americans have symptoms of dry eye disease, however only 16 million are diagnosed.
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For Sjögren’s patients, inflammation of tear-secreting glands reduces tear production, resulting in chronic dry eye. In addition, changes in the composition of tears contribute to dry eye. In people with dry eye, thin spots in the tear film may appear and the tears no longer adequately protect and support the health of ocular surface tissues.
In Sjögren’s, a patient’s white blood cells mistakenly invade tear and saliva producing glands, causing inflammation and reducing secretion. The age of onset for Sjögren’s is typically in the 40s, although many patients are being diagnosed at a younger age as education about Sjögren’s increases.
In a recent survey of Sjögren’s patients, dry eye was a symptom for 92% of respondents.
Normal healthy tears contain a complex mixture of proteins and other components that are essential for ocular health and comfort. Tears are important because they:
- Provide nutrients and support the health of cells in the cornea.
- Lubricate the ocular surface.
- Protect the exposed surface of the eye from infections. Clear vision depends on even distribution of tears over the ocular surface.
Treatments for Dry Eye Disease
Treatment for dry eye depend on its causes and severity, so it is important to be examined by an eye care professional who is trained to diagnose and treat ocular disease. The doctor may use tests to assess tear production, tear stability, and tear distribution to determine its’ severity.
The Sjögren’s Foundation also developed Dry Eye and Sjögren’s clinical practice guidelines that give a treating eye care provider a roadmap for how to treat the various levels of severity in Sjögren’s dry eye. Some of the treatment options are:
Artificial tears, gels and ointments are available over the counter. They can provide temporary relief from dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears contain water, salts, and polymers but lack the proteins found in natural tears. Those who frequently use drops or ointments should choose a brand without preservatives or one with special non-irritating preservatives. Artificial tears are used to treat mild forms of dry eye or to supplement other treatments. It is important to avoid over-the-counter redness reliever eye drops as they may exacerbate dry eyes and redness with chronic use. Ointments usually are reserved for night use since they tend to blur one’s vision.
Punctal occlusion blocks the small openings in the eyelid that normally drain tears away from the eye. Usually this is done by inserting plugs made of silicone or other materials into the openings. This simple in office procedure helps to retain the patient’s tears on the ocular surface for a longer time. It can improve symptoms and increase comfort for some patients.
There are also prescription products available to help treat dry eye
Restasis ® (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05% treats an underlying cause of chronic dry eye by suppressing the inflammation that disrupts tear secretion.
Xiidra® (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% was approved by the FDA for both the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.
CEQUA™ (cyclosporine A, ophthalmic solution) 0.09%CEQUA is a calcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressant indicated to increase tear production in patients with dry eye.
Corticosteroids (cortisone), topically applied, are occasionally prescribed to treat acute episodes of inflammation in dry eye. The use of these medications should be limited in frequency and duration to avoid potential complications of elevated intraocular pressure and glaucoma, cataract and increased risk of infections.
For more treatment options, please visit our Treatment page. Additionally, Foundation members have access to the Sjögren’s Foundation Product Directory in the Member Community.
Other Options & Considerations
Blepharitis or Meibomian Eyelid Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Because excess evaporation of the tear film can occur when there is irritation of the eyelids, conditions known as blepharitis or meibomian eyelid gland dysfunction (MGD), it is often helpful to maintain eyelid hygiene. In addition to traditional management strategies for meibomian gland dysfunction or blepharitis include warm compresses, eyelid massage and eyelid scrubs, there are many promising in-office manual and mechanical treatments that may provide the potential of symptomatic relief for patients with meibomian gland dysfunction. In addition, t opical azithromycin may be prescribed for those with MGD.
Additionally, ocular allergies and certain skin disorders, such as rosacea, also can aggravate dry eye and should be treated appropriately.
A scleral lens is a large-diameter contact lens that vaults across the entire corneal surface and rests on the white part of the eye, known as the sclera. Liquid fills the space between your eye and the back surface of the scleral lens. This liquid bandage protects the cornea from the ongoing mechanical shearing effect of the eyelids that occurs when you blink. It also continuously bathes your sensitive corneal tissue. If you have Sjögren’s and also require vision correction, the scleral lens is additionally helpful because other contact lens options may be limited by the compromised state of your ocular surface.
There is accumulating evidence to suggest that taking essential fatty acid supplements (Omegas) by mouth may improve dry eye symptoms and signs. Although research is not conclusive on this, many believe that Omegas may still be beneficial. Essential fatty acids are also available in food, flaxseed oil, blackcurrant seed oil, fish oil supplements and in some over-the-counter products.