Living with Dry Eye isn’t easy. Eventually you figure out what you can do to avoid additional pain, but it can take a lot of trial and error. I hope my 50 tips for living with Dry Eye will help you avoid, or manage, the pain of Dry Eye.
Dry and Windy Places
1. Turn off all ceiling fans. The air movement will dry eyes out even more.
2. Turn off overheard air vents on planes as soon as you board.
3. Close air vents in cars and bedrooms.
4. Keep windows rolled up in the car.
5. When flying, use nighttime gel and drops. Drink lots of water. Lower the window shade on your row.
6. If possible, vacation in humid environments. Climates that are dry can make the eyes much, much worse.
7. Avoid windy conditions and places whenever possible e.g. make sure the vent in a restaurant isn’t going to blow on your face before you sit down.
8. Remove half of the fluorescent bulbs in your office if you are light sensitive. Consider desk lamps for lighting.
9. Use a screen filter on your computer to minimize glare and reduce eye strain.
10. Use computer glasses (prescription strength are available through optometrists) to minimize glare and reduce eye strain.
11. Dim computer monitors and cell phone screens to minimize glare and reduce eye strain.
12. Take breaks from your computer and while reading anything.
13. Consider audio books to reduce eye strain.
14. Remember to blink. Put a Post-it note on your computer, or download an app to remind you.
15. Limit computer and electronic device use as much as possible.
16. Wear wrap-around sunglasses. (I like Fitovers). I wear two pairs of regular sunglasses on bad days. Or sometimes I put the disposable glasses I get at the optometrist’s office inside my regular sunglasses for added protection from the bright sunlight.
17. Ask your ophthalmologist to approve extra dark tinted windows for your car if you are light sensitive.
18. Wear bandage contact lenses when your eyes are burning or you have filaments. The lenses reduce pain when air hits the cornea. These lenses have been a lifesaver for me, especially on bad days. I get a prescription for Biotrue ONEday disposable lenses by Bausch & Lomb. They don’t come in Plano (no prescription), so I get the -0.25 prescription lens. You may need to work with your optometrist and try several brands to see what is most comfortable for you. Wear the bandage lenses only when you’re having filaments, or when the burning sensation is intense, because long-term contact lens use can also cause dryness.
19. Use nighttime gel at night in the corners of both eyes, or inside the lower lids. (I like Systane Nighttime Ointment). Be sure to reapply during the night if you wake up for any reason.
20. If you sleep with your eyes even partially open, wear an eye mask or moisture chamber goggles. The parts of the eyes that are exposed to air dry out while you’re sleeping and you wake up in pain, with burning eyes. A mask can help to keep your lids completely closed (but not always), and moisture chamber goggles keep the moisture in.
21. Flush your eyes with sterile saline several times a day. Flushing clears out any irritating particles. Sterile saline is safe and preservative-free, available OTC or with a prescription. Just don’t use it so much that you dry out your eyes and make things worse. Use an emergency eyewash station only short-term if sterile saline is not available.
Nutrition and Supplements
22. Take fish oil supplements to increase Omega-3 consumption. (I use the Thera Tears brand). It takes a while to see any improvement, but it does help.
23. Reduce sugar intake. It feeds inflammation
24. Reduce caffeine intake. It dehydrates you and alters meibum production.
25. Drink Lots of water! Stay hydrated.
26. Find an ophthalmologist who specializes in Dry Eye, not one who just prescribes eye drops. (Ophthalmologists are MD’s who can diagnose and treat more complicated conditions and perform surgery if you need it). Find an optometrist who will work with you on glasses, or fit you for bandage, or wet, contact lenses.
27. It’s important to treat underlying causes of Dry Eye and any other systemic conditions to prevent further damage to your eyes. Find doctors who know your conditions and are willing to take the time to listen to what you’re going through.
Air Quality and Humidity
28. Use humidifiers in the bedroom and office to put moisture in the air. Many environments are dry, and offices keep the air dry because of copier paper curling. If possible, keep humidity levels around 40% . Mold can grow if there’s too much moisture in the air,
29. Use an air purifier in the bedroom to reduce dust and pet dander.
30. Try keeping pets out of the bedroom. I know this one is hard for some, but it helped me.
31. Avoid dusty and moldy places like basements, attics, and storage facilities.
Fumes and Smoke
32. Avoid smoke. The smoke from fires, fire pits, bonfires, cigarettes, and fireplaces can be very irritating. Check which way the wind is blowing if you’re going to watch fireworks.
33. Ask for help with housework so chemicals and irritants, and their fumes, don’t get in your eyes.
34. If hiring a maid isn’t an option, try wearing onion glasses (available at Bed Bath & Beyond or Williams Sonoma) whenever you clean or are around irritants. Even natural cleaning products, like white vinegar, can be irritating to the eyes.
OTC/At Home Treatments
35. Use warm and cold compresses — warm for MGD to open the glands and keep the meibum flowing, and cold to relieve pain.
36. Use cold compresses on the eyes as a last resort because they lower the temperature of the meibum and make it harder to flow.
37. Keep OTC drops and bandage lenses with you at all times.
38. Only use preservative free eye drops.
39. Use lid scrubs for crusts on your lids and lashes. (I like the Systane lid wipes which are individually packaged and great for travel).
Pain and Medications
40. Take Vicodin for extreme pain. It can dry out your eyes more, but gets you over the hump.
41. Review your medication list and avoid pain relievers, hormones, anti-depressants and all meds that cause dryness. Talk to your physician about substitutions.
42. Take Pilocarpine 3-4 times a day to increase tear production.
43. Ask for lots of gel in the eyes when having surgery to reduce further drying.
44. There will be some days when you’re just not able to drive. Always have a backup driver on deck for those unexpected bad days.
45. Wash your hands often. Dry Eye sufferers tend to touch their eyes frequently to clear away debris, instill drops, blot, or a host of other reasons. Hands need to be impeccably clean to avoid contamination or getting anything in the eye. Just washing with warm soap and water, and drying thoroughly, is usually enough to remove dirt and microorganisms that can cause infection. (OcuSoft makes a special hand soap for contact lens wearers that I like).
46. Surround yourself with positive people who will lift you up, and not tear you down, so you don’t spiral into depression. You need a strong support group!
47. Try to reduce stress and avoid stressful situations. If you have Dry Eye from an autoimmune disease it will always flare up when you are under stress.
48. Don’t wear eye makeup or try serum that boosts lashes. Makeup can flake and get into your eyes and glands, and cause more discomfort
49. Get plenty of rest.
50. Never give up!
Susie Brockman, Chronic Dry Eye Patient
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