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These Habits Might be Causing Dry Eyes

re you feeling like something is stuck in your eye? Burning or redness of the eye? or having trouble opening your eyes quickly as they are glued shut after sleeping? These could be signs of dry eyes. It is one of the most common eye conditions when the eyes fail to produce sufficient tears or when the tears evaporate too rapidly. Dry eye causes may vary from lifestyle habits to environmental factors, but aging is the biggest factor as the production of tears declines with age. Dry eyes may not always be a serious problem, but they can cause discomfort and impact your day-to-day routine. So, let’s see what everyday lifestyle habits contribute to dry eyes through this article and take steps to prevent the same. 

Dry Eyes 

The eye's outer layer is coated with a protective film of tears. This film comprises an oil layer, a water layer, and a mucus layer. It spreads over the eyes every time we blink. These tears are produced in the tear glands located around the eyes to keep the moisture levels in the eyes balanced. This film of tears provides protection and is important for clear vision and comfort. Some people are unable to maintain these hydration levels to keep their eyes wet and comfortable due to insufficient production of these tears. This results in an eye condition called “dry eyes.” 

Symptoms 

Some of the symptoms of dry eyes include: 

  • Persistent irritation of the eyes 
  • Inflammation or redness of the eyes 
  • Blurry vision, particularly during prolonged focus activities such as reading or watching screens 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Stringy Mucus 
  • Difficulty driving during the night 
  • Eye Fatigue 
  • The feeling of something in the eye 
  • Excessive tearing to compensate for dryness in the eye 
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses 

Note: If these symptoms persist or worsen, it is crucial to seek professional eye care to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment for dry eyes. 

Dry Eye Causes 

Dry eye causes have multiple facets, especially habits that can lead to dry eyes. Here's a breakdown of how each of the mentioned habits may impact eye health and potentially lead to dry eyes: 

  • Poor Diet:

     A diet lacking essential nutrients, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, may contribute to dry eyes. Foods rich in these nutrients, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and leafy greens, can support eye health. So, make sure you take your daily dose of vitamins for eyes.
  • Inadequate Hydration:

     Dehydration can reduce the production of tears, leading to dry eyes. Maintaining sufficient hydration to support the lubrication of the eyes is crucial.
  • Prolonged screen time: 

    Extended screen time can contribute to dry eyes due to reduced blink rates and increased evaporation of tears. The 20-20-20 rule (taking a break every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds) can help alleviate eye strain.
  • Smoking: 

    Smoking has been linked to dry eyes and other eye-related issues. The chemicals in smoke can irritate and dry out the eyes, contributing to discomfort.  
  • Less Blinking While Reading or Watching Screens:

    Paradoxically, insufficient blinking while focusing on screens or reading for extended periods can lead to dry eyes. Blinking helps distribute tears across the eye’s surface, so consciously blinking more often can be beneficial. 
  • Indoor Environment: 

    Poor indoor air quality, low humidity, and air conditioning or heating systems exposure can contribute to dry eyes. Using humidifiers, keeping indoor spaces well-ventilated, and avoiding direct exposure to drafts can help.
  • Contact Lenses:

    Improper care and extended wear of contact lenses can lead to dry eyes. It's crucial to follow proper hygiene practices, replace lenses as recommended, and give your eyes a break by using glasses periodically. 
  • Medication:

    Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medications for high blood pressure, can have dry eyes as a side effect. If you're experiencing dry eyes due to medication, consult your healthcare provider to explore alternatives or additional interventions. 

Treatment 

Treatment for dry eyes revolves around resolving and correcting lifestyle habits that contribute to their development. This includes adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet, restricting smoking, reducing screentime exposure, using an air humidifier, modifying medications contributing to dry eyes, etc. 

Certain anti-inflammatory medicines, prescription eye drops, and punctual plugs may also be used under the supervision of an eye care professional for treating Dry Eyes. You may additionally take assistance from dietary supplements that contain necessary vitamins for eye. Such supplements will not only help you with your dry eyes but will also help you with stronger vision and healthier eyes.  

Wrapping Up 

Dry eyes, a common ocular discomfort, can be more than a passing inconvenience. The prevalence of this condition has been on the rise, affecting individuals of all ages. While dry eye causes could be multiple, certain habits may exacerbate the issue. In this article, we will delve into some habits that could be causing dry eyes. Addressing these habits and making positive lifestyle changes can improve eye health and help alleviate or prevent dry eyes. If dry eyes persist or worsen, it's advisable to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate management. 

INFOGRAPHIC 

THESE HABITS MAY BE CAUSING DRY EYES 

  • Poor Diet: 
    A diet low in important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A  
  • Inadequate Hydration: 
    Decrease in tear production due to dehydration 
  • Prolonged screen time: 
    Decreased blink rates & increased tear evaporation due to excessive screen time. 
  • Smoking: 
    Chemicals from smoke tend to irritate & dry up the eyes. 
  • Less Blinking While Reading or Watching Screens: 
    Reading or staring (like at screens) reduces blinking rates, causing dry eyes. 
  • Indoor Environment: 
    Low humidity, exposure to air conditioning or heating systems, and poor indoor air quality 
  • Prolonged use of Contact Lenses: 
    Prolonged contact lens usage and improper maintenance 
  • Consuming certain Medications: 
    Meds for high blood pressure, decongestants, antihistamines, and other conditions. 

References 

https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/dry-eyes#:~:text=Other%20causes%20of%20dry%20eye%20can%20include%3A&text=Poor%20blinking%20habits%20while%20reading,control%20pills%20and%20ulcer%20medications

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863 

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24479-dry-eye 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078845/ 

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye 

https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye 

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