I have mentioned this before and it is worth repeating… Dry Eye relief depends on blinking. Good, strong, FREQUENT blinking. When you least want to blink is when you need to blink; like while reading, working on your computer, driving, etc. During those activities it is estimated that our blink rate is reduced by 70%. For your eyes, not blinking is like holding your breath for your lungs. Interestingly enough, a lot of athletes have to force themselves to breathe more often and more deeply. Supposedly, this is why those female tennis players scream with their strokes, it forces them to breathe and breathe deeply. So when I say blink, I do not mean a little mamby, pamby flutter or wink, I mean a full, strong, eyes completely closed, Power Blink. A good full blink wipes away the old messy tear film and distributes a nice fresh tear lake full of nutrients and relief.

Like any muscle group, the more you use your eyelid muscles the stronger they are and the better they will protect your eyes. Ready for “boot camp” eyelid exercises? Squeeze your eyes shut so that you do not see any light and hold that tight squeeze. Think back to when you were 5 years old and you were pretending to be a sleep when your mother came to check on you. You squeezed your eyes closed so hard that you can’t figure out how she knew you were actually awake (in my case, my older brother taught me the more natural pretend closed eye look, no squeezing, haha). Now before opening your eyes, relax your eye lid muscles, to the natural closed eye look and then gently open them. Repeat this at least three times every twenty minutes. Think 20/20. Twenty minutes of work, twenty seconds of relaxation exercises. Now pretend your mother is in the room with you, what else are you going to do? Right, sit up straight, no slouching. Poor posture does create more neck muscle fatigue, poorer circulation which affects your dry eyes… slouching also creates bad photo ops of which your friends and family will take advantage of to post on their Facebook for the world to see.

Other activities to relax your tired dry eyes are: make sure you are well hydrated with non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids; turn off the ceiling fan, or at least turn it down; use a warm compress and gently massage your closed eye lids. Don’t’ forget to make sure your hands are clean (wow I am sounding more and more like your mother all the time, haha). You do not want to transfer newspaper ink, hand lotion, or whatever else is on your hands to your eyelids and eyes.

So is it time for your 20 second break? Close, relax, open… close, relax, open…

– by Richard Hector, MD