As a Michigander, I have grown up with a love for the fall season! It means it is harvest time, a time when mother nature shows her beautiful colors, a time to pull out cozy sweaters, and a time to prepare for the holidays with family. The downside is it means dry eye symptoms worsen from time spent aside the fire, furnaces kicking on, and ultimately drying out the air in our homes. I am here to offer some tips on how to conquer your dry eye symptoms!
There are different kinds of dry eye, and each require their own treatment to relieve symptoms. Did you know that there are three layers to your tear film? They consist of an outermost oily layer, middle watery layer, and inner mucousy layer. The three combined provided a protective coating over the front surface of our eyes. Evaporative dry eye invovles a deficiency in the outermost layer of the tear film. Aqueous deficient dry eye involves the middle layer. You eye doctor can determine which type of dry eye you suffer from with a comprehensive dry eye assessment.
With all forms of dry eye, there are some environmental modifications you can make to provide relief of your symptoms. The first is to evaluate your home:
*Do you sleep with a ceiling or stand fan on at night?
*Do you heat your house with wood?
*Do you have excessively dry air in your home?
*Do you sleep with your eyes partially open?
All of the above factors can greatly contribute to dry eye symptoms. Some modifications you can make include redirecting ceiling fans away you at night to prevent excess air from increasing dryness. I would also encourage purchasing a humidifier to increase the moisture in your house, which in turn will help maintain appropriate moisture of your eyes. Oftentimes, if you sleep with your eyelids partially open, a thicker tear supplement, such as a gel eyedrop, can provide added protection from exposure to air. Your eye doctor can prescribe this for your eyes and help you feel more refreshed and moisturized to start your day off right!
Another often forgotten component to look at is your electronic device usage. Do you regularly use a computer, tablet (iPad), or cell phone? Oftentimes when using these devices, our blink rate greatly decreases. Without a steady, regular blink rate, the tears are not able to spread equally over the surface of the eyes. This leads to dry spots or widespread dryness. I would recommend an artificial tear, such as Refresh Optive Advanced or Systane Ultra to be used prior to and immediately following electronic device use.
By implementing some of the changes mentioned above, you can greatly improve your dry eye symptoms. Michigan this time of year is beautiful, and I hope you are able to conquer your dry eye to enjoy the season!
Dr. Hannah Rillema, O.D.