4 Simple Ways To Soothe Dry Eyes, From A Functional Eye Doctor
There's nothing quite like that first full day of spring sunshine, budding blooms, and um, allergies? OK, so not everything about the season is idyllic. Even if your indoor air quality is in pristine condition, outdoor allergens, like pollen, can aggravate dry eyes.
Rather than hiding away indoors, functional eye doctor Rudrani Banik, M.D., recommends these four tricks for managing the irritating symptom:
1. Use warm compresses at bedtime.
Placing a warm compress over dry eyes can be relaxing, but what makes it actually effective? According to optometrist MaryAnn Ellement, O.D., it all comes down to the length of treatment and the amount of heat applied.
The trick is to keep the compress on your eyes for at least 10 minutes and make sure it stays warm the entire time, Ellement previously told us.
Since you won't be exposed to any more outdoor allergens for the day, Banik recommends doing this at night. Plus, it may help you wind down for bedtime.
2. Use lubricating ointment at night.
Another method for managing dry eyes is to buy an over-the-counter eye lubricant.
To apply it, Banik says to pull down the lower lid and put one-quarter inch of the ointment into the pocket. "Be sure not to touch the tip of the tube to your eye or eyelid since it may cause a scratch or contaminate it," she says.
If you're not sure what brand to buy, reach out to your eye doctor for recommendations.
3. Increase your dietary omega-3 intake.
This tip may come as a surprise, but nutrition actually plays a major role in eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have been shown to manage dry-eye syndrome by coating the eyes with moisture.
You can get these nutrients via supplement, but there are also ample food sources for fish eaters and vegans alike. A few of our favorites include fatty fish, walnuts, purslane, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
4. Use the 20/20 rule.
Allergens alone can aggravate the eyes, but the added strain of staring at a computer screen all day certainly won't help. If doing so is part of your job, Banik recommends following the 20/20 rule. "Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes when working on a screen," she says.
During those 20 seconds, "close your eyes and take some deep breaths." Not only will it give your eyes a break, but it may help bring awareness back into the present moment—which is vital during a busy workday.
Sitting outdoors blanketed by the warm spring sun can feel like a relief until allergy symptoms begin to flare up. To help combat the irritating side effect of dry eyes, consider adding warm compresses, lubricating ointment, omega-3s, and computer breaks to your routine.