Ah, the dreaded dry eye syndrome - a condition as common as it is inconvenient that can just sneak up on you out of nowhere. Even the healthiest of eyes can come down with a case of dryness, which happens when your body doesn't produce enough tears. Made up of fatty oils, mucus and water, tears keep your eyes perfectly hydrated and sparkling clean, so when they aren't produced properly, you're likely to experience discomfort.
There are many causes of dry eyes such as staring at a screen or having the heating or aircon up too high - but wearers of contact lenses know all too well that wearing lenses might dry out their eyes quicker. This happens because the lens on your cornea limits the amount of oxygen flow that's needed to develop your natural tears. Luckily, there's no need to despair! Dry eyes can easily be defeated by following our simple steps and trying out a few top-notch home remedies.
Symptoms of dry eyes
If your tears aren't doing their job, some of the symptoms you might experience include:
- Blurry vision or eye fatigue
- A stinging, scratchy or burning sensation in your eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Watery eyes - your body is trying to overcompensate for the dryness
- Feeling like there's something stuck in your eyes
- Struggling to wear contact lenses
Common dry eye causes
There are various reasons as to why your body will stop producing a suitable amount of tears, such as:
- The natural process of ageing, particularly menopause
- Medical conditions and diseases, including diabetes, lupus and vitamin A deficiency
- The side effects of certain drugs like antihistamines and decongestants
- Indoor environments (fans, air-conditioning and heating systems)
- Outdoor environments (wind, smoke, dust, dry air)
- Wearing contact lenses
- Tear gland damage, eye diseases or after eye surgery
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Blinking less often due to driving, reading or working at the computer
Top tips to avoid dry eyes
Eat for your eyes
We all know the importance of eating healthily for your body, but a good diet will also do wonders for those parched peepers. Of course, drinking plenty of water is essential for overall hydration, and incorporating certain foods for eye health that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can help increase tear production.
Fight off potential dry eyes with two portions of fresh fish (a common source of these essential acids) a week, like salmon, sardines and tuna. Snacking on nuts and seeds will also do the trick, especially chia, pumpkin and flax seeds along with peanuts, almonds and walnuts. You can up your intake of antioxidants with fruits and veggies, particularly, oranges, berries, kale and aubergine to ensure your eyes stay comfortable and moist, too.
Protect your eyes from the elements
Your eyes are the most sensitive organs in your body, so it's important to take all the precautions to keep them safe and irritation-free. Wearing protective eyewear (particularly wraparound sunglasses), paired with contact lenses featuring a UV filter can provide excellent overall protection. everclear ELITE, for example, are ultra-comfortable daily lenses, great for dry and sensitive eyes, with a high water content, and UV protection blocking harmful UVA and UVB rays. If after a day of outdoor adventuring, your eyes are still feeling dry, you can rehydrate your lenses with eye drops or even take out your lenses, try some eye exercises, apply a warm compress or give your eyes a gentle wash, removing any irritants from the eyelashes and the lower eyelids.
Dose up on eye drops
There's nothing like the speedy and soothing relief of eye drops - ideal for preventing and curing the driest of eyes so that there's no further disruption to your day. Keep a bottle of eye drops handy in your bag, on your desk or next to your bed, and let these artificial tears replace any missing water. For contact lens wearers, you can use them to instantly refresh and clean your lenses (always check to see which ones yours are compatible with), guaranteeing maximum comfort throughout the day.
Be strict with screen time
With work and daily life involving many hours of screen time, it's hard to give those eyes a much-needed rest. But as staring at your computer screen while concentrating causes you to blink less, possibly resulting in dry eyes and digital eye strain, it's essential to take regular breaks. We recommend that you pull yourself away from that display throughout the day, whether it's to make a cup of tea or enjoy a saunter in the garden.
If in doubt, just remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from your screen for 20 seconds, at an object that's 20 feet away. Simply setting up your equipment correctly if you're working from home can also minimise eye strain - position your screen at eye level, more than 40cm away, and adjust the brightness and the font size to stop that squinting.
Don't fall asleep with your contact lenses in
Undoubtedly, contact lenses can become a big part of your everyday life, so we won't ask you to part with them for too long! However, switching to your glasses for at least one day a week is a good move, allowing your eyes to breath without any restrictions. When you're asleep is another opportunity for your eyes to rehydrate, and if you're still unsure, sleeping with your lenses in is a big no-no. This can limit the amount of oxygen and moisture that reaches your eye, causing another level of eye dryness, which requires plenty of eye drops in the morning to compensate. If you're after contact lenses that you can kip in, speak to your optometrist about extended wear lenses. Designed with highly permeable silicone hydrogel, these lenses are an ideal solution for those short on time for ample eye care, with busy schedules.