When blinking your eyelids feels like crunching through sand with a kid’s shovel at the beach, then you know you’ve had enough of dry eyes. Contact lens may be cosmetically appealing, but if by the end of the day, your eyes resemble raisins, and peeling them off your eyeballs feels like removing a thick band-aid, then read on.

Artificial tears. They can be purchased over the counter as a liquid, gel, or ointment. Ideally, start with 1 drop in each day four times daily. Search for brands that do not contain preservatives, as these can sometimes increase eye irritation. Gels and ointments stay in the eye longer, but can temporarily cause blurry vision; use these at night before sleep.

Warm compress. Sometimes the natural glands that secrete fluid into the eye become clogged with natural by-products (proteins, calcium, eye boogies). Lightly warming/washing these away can loosen the glands and prevent the formation of painful sty’s.

Avoid prolonged starring at computer screens. Whether you realize it or not, you blink more when monotonously peering at screens. Heating and air conditioning systems dry out the air. Add a humidifier in places where you spend the most time.

Glasses with moisture chambers. Hopefully this is self explanatory.

If none of the above-mentioned tips help, then it’s time to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They will perform a series of tests on your eyes and determine if procedures or medications are needed.

Danielle Kelvas, MD

TRANSCRIPT:

Hi everyone, Dr. Calvin
with Liberty Family Medicine here to talk on the subject of chronic dry eyes. So, you know, at least from patients that are staying in nursing homes, right, you’re not getting outside as much. You’re constantly subjected to high flow, whether it’s heating systems or air conditioning. So for sure that’s going to dry out your eyes. But more importantly, as we age, we tend to be on more and more medications. And, you know, physicians now are being more educated and avoiding polypharmacy. I think the magic number now is you should never take more than 10 medications. And I think that’s a safe a safe bet. But there’s a list of medications it’s called the beers criteria or beers list b e r s, if you want to Google it. And it lists all of the medications that you need to be aware of that have worsen worsening side effects above the age of 65. And a lot of those medications cause dry eye. So you can be treating it with tears or ointments, you know, humidifiers all day long. But you know, if you’re taking Benadryl for your allergies, it’s going to make your eyes and your mouth dry. But so making it so first thing, make sure that you’re not on any medications that are exacerbating your dry eyes. So something else you can try are artificial tears that can be purchased over the counter as a liquid a gel or ointment. Ideally, you want to start with you know, the lowest dose that you need. So one drop maybe four times daily. Make sure that these brands don’t carry preservatives, those can agitate the eye or make them very itchy pay attention to that gels and ointments are going to be thicker, and sometimes patients don’t like that. Just that feeling of some ointment being in the eye, but they stay there longer. They can cause temporary blurry vision. So what I typically counsel with ointments, put them in your eyes, right as you’re going to sleep. And then that way you know your eyes are closed, you’re not dealing with the discomfort you sleep and it stays there longer. So we just tear dust around the eye, you’ve got your the lacrimal sac, which is right up in here. And then you’ve got your lacrimal glands which are kind of on the peripheral here. Sometimes those glands can actually accumulate little like calcium stones or little blockages to loosen that up, get a warm compress and put the compress on the eye. You want to be careful not to you know, take your dirty fingers and rub in your eyes because that’s how you get an early infection. But also washing your face twice a day and taking a wet rag and like getting all of you know kind of the crust and gunk out of your eyes. You know if you can take showers for sure wash your face that way. If you you know, but with a lot of like creams and lotions and anti aging things, more often than not what I see with patients is they just get these they get these like exhibited rashes around the eyes and it tends to dry the skin out around the eye. Which seems so backwards because people spend billions of dollars to hydrate the skin. But then I get all these patients that all these creams just dry out the skin around their eyes. So um, something else also avoid looking at screens all day every day. I know it’s it’s the favorite. Now to scroll through your iPhone right before bed, that bright light your your eyes are actually open longer. So you blink less this will over time dry out your eyes.
You can actually purchase glasses with moisture chambers. I recently discovered this and it looks so 1960s and I love it. But you know if you are for example, in a nursing home, you know you’ve got a lot of air conditioning drying out the eyes, their little their glasses that they’ve got like little chambers, that kind of they almost look like goggles and they’ll hold moisture in and around the eyes and the face. If none of these just over the counter sort of things work for you. You may need to go see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. You may need a prescription strength bottle of artificial tears. But please, please please read the bottles. Do not just go to Walmart or a store and buy a random water sample or fluid and put that in your eyes. I’ve had patients come into my clinic. Who who put rant anyway, long story short You must make sure that is it’s very gentle. The pH of the solution has to be just right. You can’t just you know put water in the eyes for example that water will actually dry out your eyes worse.

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Chronic dry eye treatments, from desert to rain forest

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