What Is Dry Eye?
Our tears are made up of water and oil layers. Dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome) occurs when the eyelids’ meibomian glands do not secrete enough natural oil into the tears. This causes the eyes to become dry, itchy, red, and painful. Dry eye can also occur when not enough tears are produced. Environmental conditions like dry or windy air, and staring at a screen or book for a long time, can also dry out your eyes.
What You Can Do About Dry Eye
One of the best ways to make dry, irritated eyes feel refreshed is with a warm compress. A warm compress will open the oil glands and soften oil blockages, allowing oil to flow into the tears. Wet a clean washcloth or place it in a microwave for 20 seconds. Touch it to your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot, then place the compress on your closed eyelids for a few minutes while tilting your head back or reclining. When the compress cools, reheat and repeat.
Washcloths often do not stay warm enough for long enough to help that much. We have commercial "eye spa pads" that are better because they hold the concentrated heat better.
Compresses slow the evaporation of tears. Their warm moisture provides relief by stabilizing the eyes’ tear film and improving the meibomian glands’ production of oil. With your eyes now hydrated and lubricated, they can also expel bacteria more efficiently.
Certain prescription eye drops also address dry eye, and steroids can provide relief. Others provide additional lubrication. Please consult with Dr. Harold Ashcraft, who can recommend or prescribe the best drops for your eyes.
Other home remedies include:
- An air filter to eliminate irritants
- A humidifier to increase moisture in the air and decrease evaporation of your tears
- Drinking water to stay hydrated
- Wearing sunglasses to deflect ultraviolet rays and wind that dry the eyes
Special Considerations for Dry Eye Treatment:
- Don’t make the compresses or washcloths too hot.
- Use a different compress for each eye to prevent spreading an infection between the eyes.
- We recommend lightly cleaning with a swab or cloth, then wetting and wiping your eyelids several times each day. Doing so can prevent bacteria from entering your eyes.
If you are experiencing dry eye, please bring it to our attention. Untreated, dry eye can sometimes cause corneal abrasions or ulcers, inflammation, and even vision impairment.
At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, Dr. Harold Ashcraft will treat patients with dry eye from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.