1. Reduce Screen Time
Tell me this isn't the answer to most of our psychological and health problems! Unfortunately, our modern society runs on screentime! (1)
Why it happens? Screentime causes decreased blink rate and has been linked in recent studies to increased incidence of dry eye symptoms.
What to do? Blink breaks can help redistrubute tears on the ocular surface and stimulate meibomian gland emptying.
2. Environmental Adjustments
If you are working on screens near a fan or in a relatively dry space, consider adding humidity to the air. You can slow the evaporative drying underway, (even if you are on your screen while you do it. Reread #1.)
3. Moisture Chamber Goggles
These are actually really beneficial for people who need to sleep with a fan, but who's eyes stay partly open when they sleep or noctural lagophthalmos. Sometimes a silk eye mask can be effective also.
4. Warm Compresses
One of the few things that helps is stimulating the oil glands aka meibomian glands in your eyelids to empty. 10-20 minutes of warm moist heat applied to the eyelids daily and then a few good strong blinks afterwards will get you started in the right direction. The trick is to control the heat near 40-41.5 degrees Celsius, or about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is sometimes difficult to control at home. Take care not to burn or overheat your eyelids because that will cause new problems instead of solving your dry eye (2).
What about Fish Oil Supplementation/Omega 3 Supplementation?
While studies show mixed results, we often still recommend these supplements for lack of options and older observational studies that found them beneficial.
Have you tried them? Did they help you?
While there are lots of other treatments aimed at dry eye, these are the natural things I recommend trying.
If you feel like you aren't getting anywhere with these options, you aren't alone. In that case, I am here to help!
Schedule an eye exam at your earliest convenience. You can request an appointment here.
1. Saldanha IJ, Petris R, Makara M, Channa P, Akpek EK. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eye strain and dry eye symptoms. Ocul Surf. 2021 Oct;22:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2021.06.004. Epub 2021 Jun 13. PMID: 34133976; PMCID: PMC8462938.
2. Borchman D. The optimum temperature for the heat therapy for meibomian gland dysfunction. Ocul Surf. 2019 Apr;17(2):360-364. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2019.02.005. Epub 2019 Feb 19. PMID: 30794947; PMCID: PMC6529265.
3. Willcox MDP, Argüeso P, Georgiev GA, Holopainen JM, Laurie GW, Millar TJ, Papas EB, Rolland JP, Schmidt TA, Stahl U, Suarez T, Subbaraman LN, Uçakhan OÖ, Jones L. TFOS DEWS II Tear Film Report. Ocul Surf. 2017 Jul;15(3):366-403. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2017.03.006. Epub 2017 Jul 20. PMID: 28736338; PMCID: PMC6035753.
4. Downie LE, Ng SM, Lindsley KB, Akpek EK. Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids for dry eye disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Dec 18;12(12):CD011016. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011016.pub2. PMID: 31847055; PMCID: PMC6917524.
5. Paik B, Tong L. Topical Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eyedrops in the Treatment of Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disease: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 29;23(21):13156. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113156. PMID: 36361942; PMCID: PMC9654205.