By Charly Drobek for Dr. Sam Berne, Holistic Optometrist
One of the primary causes of dry eyes is chronic inflammation near the eyelashes or in the tear glands. This inflammation can interfere with the production of tear film that covers the cornea and keeps the eyes moisturized.
Another common cause of dry eyes is digital eye strain, when you eyes spend so much time staring at screens that you develop dryness, blurred vision, and headaches. Lifestyle factors that can cause dry eyes include smoking, poor sleep, and bad dietary habits.
1. Use the right kind of eyedrops. Eyedrops can be a great temporary fix for dry eyes, but with some caveats. Dr. Berne warns that “redness relief” drops contain vasoconstrictors, which constrict blood vessels in the eye to make them less red and should only be used sparingly. He also recommends not relying solely on “artificial tears,” which could reduce symptoms but don’t necessarily address any of the above-mentioned root cause of dry eyes. Instead, he suggests homeopathic eye drops as a way to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
2. Implement healthy “digital hygiene” practices. Remember that he said that digital eye strain is a big cause of dry eyes? There’s something you can do to fix that (beyond quitting your job and throwing away your phone). Dr. Berne suggests practicing the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. And Dr. Berne recommends wearing blue-light blocking glasses when using digital devices, since blue light is another big cause of eye strain (and thus, dryness).
3. Tweak your diet. Dr. Berne recommends making small changes to your diet in order to fight inflammation (and subsequently, fight one of the biggest causes of dry eyes). He suggests eating more antioxidant-rich foods like leafy greens and citrus fruits in order to reap their anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as upping your consumption of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.