Even if you have an excellent doctor treating you for Dry Eye or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your symptoms. These range from getting a good night’s sleep to washing your hands before touching your eyes. Some lifestyle changes can be hard to make. But when the discomfort from Dry Eye or MGD takes over your life, even small changes can add up to make a big difference. Remember, you can play a big part in managing Dry Eye and MGD symptoms.
If you have aqueous deficiency, MGD, or sleep with your eyes opened (nocturnal lagophthalmos) moisture chamber goggles can help to prevent your tear film from evaporating. Choose goggles that block out light or clear ones that you can see through. Be sure to wash them every day according to the manufacturer’s directions. If your goggles are uncomfortable, contact the manufacturer. If the pair you have is under warranty you should be able to exchange them for a more comfortable pair.
2. Don’t touch your eyes unless you have just washed your hands.
Introducing bacteria to the eyes only exacerbates symptoms. So wash your hands right before you touch your eyes for any reason, even when you’re just putting in an eye drop. And blot them dry them with a fresh, clean, low-lint paper towel. Keep a roll of paper towels on your bathroom counter or wherever you take care of your eyes most often so they are always within reach when you need them.
3. Avoid foods that cause inflammation.
Some foods are known to cause inflammation such as foods that contain high levels of Omega 6 fatty acids. This includes chicken and turkey. Inflammation is not always a bad thing – it’s how the body fends off disease. But chronic inflammation, which is associated with MGD, is the last thing you want to increase when you’re trying to improve eye comfort. Some experts recommend eliminating dairy, sugar, and wheat. But without actual food sensitivity testing, you might be eliminating some foods unnecessarily while not eliminating foods that cause your inflammation. For more information, see our page on food sensitivity testing.
4. Eliminate allergens.
Allergens cause allergic reactions and inflammation, and inflammation is the enemy of the meibomian gland. See tip #3 above. Eliminating allergens completely can be very difficult. For example, dust is almost impossible to completely eliminate or avoid. And it can be extremely difficult, and even heartbreaking, to eliminate it if the allergen is a beloved pet. But the more you can avoid allergens, the less you will exacerbate any symptoms.
5. Increase Omega 3 consumption.
Adding Omega 3 to your diet helps to offset the inflammatory effects of Omega 6’s. You can either increase the foods that have a beneficial Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio or take a good Omega 3 supplement. If you choose to take an Omega 3 supplement, be sure it’s tested for contaminants.
6. Stop wearing eye makeup.
If you’re used to wearing eye makeup, stopping can be very hard. It might take some extra courage to go out without any on. But tiny particles of eye makeup can flake and fall into the eyes. Powders can rim the eye lid margin, the site of the opening of the meibomian glands. Makeup brushes, sponges, and mascara tubes harbor bacteria. And we don’t even want to imagine the colonies of demodex mites in there, so on to the next tip.
7. Get a good night’s sleep.
Eye tissue is restored when we sleep. When we don’t get a full eight hours, the cells don’t have time to regenerate and we end up exacerbating any eye discomfort. Eight hours is usually recommended. So put on those moisture chamber goggles and go to bed early.
8. See your doctor. Don’t delay.
Doctors can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on. So if you’re not getting better, or you’re experiencing some new symptom, don’t delay and make an appointment. Some doctors will communicate via text or e-mail once you’ve established a doctor/patient relationship. They may even take your call, especially if you’re experiencing acute symptoms. So if you’re experiencing something new, or something you’re pretty sure shouldn’t be happening, let your doctor know. The sooner the better, and before it gets worse.
Managing Dry Eye and MGD symptoms can be challenging, but remember that every little thing you do can add up to help a lot.
View more tips for coping with Dry Eye and MGD.
How do you manage your symptoms? Send your tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share them with our readers in future blog posts.
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