There are a lot of reasons for dry eyes at this time of year. Dry outside air, your heater at home or in your car, the dry circulated air in nearly every public building, and windy days kicking irritants into your eyes. Add to that the dry air of airplanes, trains, and other modes of transportation for your holiday travels, and your eyes will be screaming for moisture.
Our eyes are irreplaceable, so we should care for and protect them as best as we can. The same way you’d use lotion on your skin, conditioner on your hair, and Chapstick on your lips, you should give the same attention to the health of your eyes.
Here are some ways you can help care for your vision:
01. Adjust and Limit Screen Use
Have you ever noticed that we tend to blink less when watching T.V, when using a computer, and when using our phones? Blinking helps our eyes distribute their natural moisture. The less we blink, the dryer our eyes will feel.
The remedy we’ve heard that is our least favorite, is the suggestion to remind yourself to blink more. It feels so unnatural to consciously blink and it’s not likely to be the most effective solution if you can’t remember to do it.
A more reasonable option would be to instill one or two eye drops into your eyes on television commercial breaks, to wear blue light glasses to filter the emissions from your phone or computer screen, or to place a protective screen on your device that blocks harmful light from getting to your eyes.
You can also simply take more breaks from screen-time to limit the amount of eye strain and dryness you feel.
02. If Possible, Limit Antihistamines
While they combat allergy symptoms, they can actually cause additional dryness to your eyes. They work by blocking your body’s response to allergens. Unfortunately, a typical response to allergens is watery eyes, so antihistamines can cause more discomfort if you tend to suffer from eye dryness.
Other Medications Cause Dry Eyes
According to an article by WebMD, other medications, that you may not be able to limit, can also cause dry eyes. Some of these include:
- Parkinson’s Medications
- Sleeping Pills
- Acne Medication
- Birth Control Pills and Other Hormones
- Blood Pressure Medications
- Nasal Decongestants
- Common NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen
03. Do Eye Exercises
How often do we use the full range of motion our eyes are capable of? Probably not as often as we should. You can increase your exposure to bad puns and dad jokes to get some eye rolling in, or you can do some intentional eye exercises.
Eye exercises can help comfort your eyes when they have been focused on a single object (like a computer) for a long time. Here are just a few simple ones that you can commit to memory for later use:
Exercise 1: Pick out the farthest object in the room (or out the window) that you can see. Focus on it briefly, then move your eyes to something about half as far away. Focus on that for a few seconds before you shift your focus to something close to you. Do this exercise a few times.
Exercise 2: Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes of eye-straining work should be paused for 20 seconds so you can look at something 20 feet away.
Exercise 3: Without turning your head, use only yours eyes to look to your far left, then look to your far right. Then look all the way up and then all the way down. Repeat this a few times. Follow this with rolling your eyes 3 times to the left then 3 times to right.
Some free smartphone apps can send you notifications after a certain amount of phone use, or according to a timer if you want to monitor your computer or television time. This will help remind you that it’s time to rest your eyes and do some exercises. Some will even walk you through various eye muscle movements.
04. Turn Off Your Heater & Bundle Up
Running the heater creates a toasty and comfortable space in these cooler months, but it can wreak havoc on your hair, skin, hydration, and of course your eyes! Save your body and save on your electric bill by bundling up in blankets or warmer clothes instead of running the heater.
Another option is to run the heater before going to bed to warm up your space, and then turning it off so it doesn’t run all night.
If it’s just too cold to do without your heater, or perhaps you’re a “fan” of running the fan year-round, consider investing in a humidifier. You can also wear an eye mask to bed to help keep air flow from making direct contact with your eyes and drying them out during the night.
05. Keep Eye Drops Handy
Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops are a life saver for people with dry eyes. You can choose between the individually packaged vials that are usually preservative-free and disposable, or you can buy small bottles for extended use. There are also gel-like drops that can provide longer-lasting relief, but because they’re thicker, they may blur your vision temporarily. It may be preferable to reserve these for nighttime before you go to sleep.
Pro Tip: Try refrigerating your eye drops for an extra refreshing burst of relief.
06. Eat a Balanced Diet
Nutrients in your food can help give your eyes what they need to create tears and keep your eyes feeling fresh.
Vitamin A, which is known for being good for your eyes, can be found in carrots, eggs, and dairy.
Vitamin C is great for the blood vessels in your eyes.1 Increase your intake by eating oranges, kale, lemons, and broccoli.2
Omega-3’s are fatty acids that aid in your visual development and support your retina health. They also combat dry eyes.1 Find Omega-3’s in fish, avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.3
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect your eyes by fighting off free radicals. You can find Vitamin E in almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.1
07. Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
It can be tempting to rub your eyes when they feel itchy and dry, but the best thing you can do is to avoid doing exactly that. Try to find relief in some of these other ways and keep hydrated to give your body the moisture it needs from the inside out.
For information on how to care for your eyes and your sinuses this season, read our article on How to Manage Autumn Allergens at Home. To learn more about the nutrients in your produce and whether freezing them strips their nutritional value, listen to our Podcast on Fruits and Veggies. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!
- Silver, Natalie. “7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.” Healthline, 9 Feb. 2017, 7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.
- Hill, Caroline. “20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin C.” Healthline, 8 June 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods#section1.
- Hjalmarsdottir, Freydis. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.” Healthline, 30 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-omega-3-rich-foods#1.