dry eyesWhether your dry eyes are a mild annoyance or much more bothersome, there are many things you can do for both immediate and long-term improvement.

1. Manage your environment

Drafts and wind tend to worsen dryness of the eyes, so minimize your exposure. Avoid ceiling fans or position yourself as far away from them as possible. Aim your vehicle’s air conditioning vents away from your face. Protective eyewear can also be helpful. For mild symptoms, wearing a regular pair of sunglasses may be enough to make a noticeable difference. A step up from that is protective eyewear with foam lining in the frame to block drafts and wind. Both Harley-Davidson and Wiley X sunglasses are good options.

Next, pay attention to indoor humidity levels. Arizona air can be very dry, and running air conditioners makes it worse. Use indoor humidifiers to counteract this.

2. Adopt the 20/20/20 rule for your screen time.

When looking at screens on your electronic devices, you’ll blink less and that means drier eyes. One possible solution is as follows: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at something that’s 20 feet away, and blink to help lubricate your eyes.

3. Lubricate your dry eyes

Use lipid-based artificial tears such as Soothe XP, Systane Balance, Systane Gel, Retaine MGD, or Refresh Optive. If you need to use these drops more than four times daily, ask your eye doctor about preservative-free options.

For eyes that get dry when sleeping, overnight lubrication can be useful (e.g., with Genteal Gel). Prescription treatments such as Lotemax ointment may also be required.

4. Put diet on your side

Adding 2000mg/day of high-quality Krill, Fish, or Flaxseed oils to your diet can sometimes help to improve dry eye symptoms. Look for brands that contain 850-1500 mg of EPA and DHA, and take your supplements after breakfast.

5. Warm compresses and eyelid massage can be helpful

For some people, clogged glands in their eyelids contribute to dry eye symptoms – in these cases, warm compresses followed by eyelid massage can be helpful. Lipiflow treatment is similar, but can be considered the “high tech” version of the above – for some people it’s a worthwhile investment.

6. Other treatments

Your doctor may recommend the use of prescription Lotemax, prescription Sodium Chloride solution in your contact lenses, and punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear duct to block the duct, preventing liquid from draining from the eye.

Don’t put off treating your dry eyes

If your eyes are dry, start taking steps today to improve them – address environmental issues that worsen your symptoms and make an appointment with your eye doctor to come up with a custom strategy for your needs.