Dry eyes are a frustrating and uncomfortable problem that is mainly associated with insufficient amount of tears or with inadequate quality of tears. Tears play a very important role in vision- they form a protective layer on the eye, lubricate it so it does not feel scratchy, clean it by removing the dust and dirt particles.
Factors which leads to dry eyes
Eyes can occasionally become dry due to environmental factors, such as very dry indoor air, windy weather, smoke and dust, pollutants, chemicals, prolonged activities such as reading, writing, typing and similar. They can also be associated with a physiological problem involving tears or tear ducts, or even the entire eye.
When the eyes are dry, they also feel achy, tired, itchy, sensitive to light, and as a response to the irritation they may start treating excessively or secreting a mucus-like substance.
Dry eyes can be relieved by using special eye drops called artificial tears. However, if they last for longer than one week, it may be better to see a doctor who will determine with certainty what is the source of the problem.
Prevention of dry eyes
The best way to prevent dry eyes is to pay attention to the situations in which the eyes become dry and irritated and to avoid such situations in the future.
For example, it is recommended to avoid air blowing directly to the eyes. Heaters, air conditioning devices, blow dryers, fans and similar should not be directed to the eyes. When riding in a convertible or next to an open window, the eyes should be protected by sunglasses.
Glasses or sunglasses are also recommended during very windy weather, especially if the wind carries dust or sand particles. When swimming or diving, the eyes should be protected by goggles.
During winter, the indoor heating systems tend to make the air dryer than usual. If the indoor air is dry, it is recommended to use humidifiers, making sure to clean or replace the filters on regular basis.
Sometimes prolonged activity that involves the eyes, such as reading or writing, can make the eyes feel dry. In such situations it helps to make brief breaks from those activities, closing the eyes for a few minutes and resting them.
The computer screen should be below the eye level. If it is above the eye level, the eyes will have to be open more widely, which will not only irritate the eyes and make them achy but it will also speed up the evaporation of the tears.
Finally, smoking is a major contributor to dry eyes and it should be reduced or avoided altogether. The same, of course, goes for second-hand smoking.