Apparently there’s at least one day or month in each year dedicated to celebrating every possible subject known to humankind—and July happens to be Dry Eye Awareness Month. The Weekly has the whole story on how to make sure your peepers are all wet.
Our eyes are extremely hard workers. Most of us spend at least 16 hours every day with our eyes open inside dry, climate-controlled rooms, or outside in bright light or windy, dusty, smoky conditions. We then place extra strain on our eyes by staring at computer screens, squinting at our cell phone screens, and watching television. Your eyes can suffer from all this wear and tear, but unless you already wear glasses or contacts, there’s a good chance that your eye health gets zero love. Maybe you just need a few extra hours of rest or a few more hours away from your Xbox; however, sometimes eye discomfort is the sign of something a little more serious—Dry Eye Syndrome.
According to those experts over at the Mayo Clinic, healthy eyes are continuously covered by a “tear film,” a layer of fluid designed to remain stable between blinks, that helps prevent dry eyes and allows you to maintain clear, comfortable vision. The tear film protects, lubricates, reduces the risk of eye infection and, every time you blink, helps clear your eyes of any debris. Keep in mind that tears are actually much more than just water—they also include fatty oils, proteins, electrolytes, bacteria-fighting substances and growth factors that regulate various cell processes. Decreased production of this complex fluid from your tear glands can destabilize the tear film, allowing it to break down rapidly and create dry spots on the clear front surface of the eye (cornea), causing irritation, inflammation and blurry vision. Dry eyes are most common in adults age 40 or older, but, according to Dr. Robert Latkany, a board-certified ophthalmologist and author of The Dry Eye Remedy (Hatherleigh Press), nearly one-third of all Americans suffer from dry eyes, and almost everyone will experience symptoms at least once.
Lucky for us, however, in most cases, the condition is relatively easy to remedy. The goal is to make ‘em moist. Here are Dr. Latkany’s five simple suggestions for relieving (and hopefully preventing) the discomfort of dry eyes:
When you have to use a computer, adjust your chair or the position of your monitor so that you look down at the screen rather than up. This reduces the exposed area of your eyes, which helps to keep moisture in. Also make sure to give your eyes a rest, both by taking brief breaks during the work day, and by avoiding more computer use later at night.
Create Your Own Little Tropical Island
Keep a humidifier next to your bed at night and, if possible, near your desk at the office. Try to position yourself away from air conditioning or heating vents, with your back to the flow of the air.
Wear Cool Eyewear, Even At Night
Wear sunglasses when outside and use a sleep mask when you go to bed, to help lock in moisture.
Six to eight glasses of water a day help wash away toxins and promote healthy vision, amongst a million other health benefits.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Seriously. According to Dr. Latkany, there is evidence that social interaction, alongside diet and exercise, lowers stress and inflammation. Smiling also decreases the ocular surface area, reducing dry eye symptoms.
If you think you have dry eyes, see a physician for care and to ensure that you aren’t suffering from something more serious.