Dry eye disease can be uncomfortable, but in most cases, it can be managed successfully to reduce symptoms and improve eye comfort. This is important to know, especially with all of us working at our computers much more than before the pandemic (and likely to continue for a while.)
An eye doctor can help you find relief by determining a cause of your Dry Eye and guiding you to the most effective treatment.
Dry eyes have many causes, but a newly relevant reason is excessive screen time
All of us have had much more screen time in our lives as we work and learn from home, and the incidence of Dry Eye is rising significantly as a result. Research confirms that we all blink about half as often when staring at screens. If screen time is exacerbating your eye discomfort, you may be developing Dry Eye.
Here are treatments for dry eye that optometrists often recommend:
This is the most common, convenient and highly effective home treatment for Dry Eye. Meibomian gland dysfunction is a leading cause of dry eyes, involved in at least 85% of cases.
In MGD, the Meibomian glands along the edges of your eyelids get clogged. So, the glands don’t produce the oil that covers your tears and prevents them from evaporating too quickly. At home, you can use warm compresses daily to soften the meibum and keep it flowing properly.
For maximum relief, the compresses need to be just warm enough to loosen the oil without reddening your eyelids. And they need to be placed on the eyes for at least 10 minutes. The EyeGiene® Insta-Warmth™ System with Warming Wafers is the option that provides the most convenient and effective relief without having to boil or microwave an eye mask. You simply slip the wafers into the mask, don the mask and relax for 10-15 minutes. The wafers automatically deliver the right heat needed to treat MGD.
Meibomian Gland Expression
Your eye doctor offers a procedure to express the clogged Meibomian gland to move out the contents that have hardened. The procedure can help relieve dry eyes, although it can be uncomfortable to have pressure applied to the Meibomian glands to fully express the clogs. And ongoing relief then still includes regular use at home of the warm compresses described above.
As an alternative or supplement to warm compresses, artificial tears are also available without a prescription. The condition they relieve is the insufficient production of tears rather than meibum oil, and offer hydration to soothe weary eyes. Use low viscosity tears for relief when driving or when you need immediate clear vision. Gel drops are thicker and can cause blurring for a few minutes. However, drops alone do not treat the underlying problem in over 85% of cases.
Another common treatment is a punctal plug that is inserted into the tear duct to prevent drainage. This keeps moisture over the eyes longer, but you do need to have an eye doctor insert the plugs.
Do You Think You Are You Suffering From Dry Eyes?
We recommend scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor as a first step. In the meantime, try to take more frequent breaks when using your phone or the computer.
- Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away from your computer for 20 seconds. This relieves eye strain and dry eyes. (It’s also a great reason to enjoy the view out your window for a few minutes!)
- When you go outside during the day, use sunglasses to block the sun’s UV rays. Protect your eyes from dust and wind by wearing a wraparound style.