1. Do you need another reason to quit smoking? Add Dry Eye Disease to the list. Recent studies have shown even second hand smoke is very harsh on the surface of the eye. There are a lot of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke that can break down your protective tear film and the surface corneal tissue. If you are around a lot of cigarette smoke, you need to increase the use of artificial tears. Cigarette smoking is also known to be a strong contributor to the acceleration of macular degeneration. Outside of family history, it is the most common denominator in those patients with this serious eye disease.
2. While I am spoiling your fun, alcohol is also not dry eye friendly, as it can dehydrate you. This is good to remember when you are traveling in a commercial aircraft where the atmosphere is already dryer than any desert. Drink plenty of water instead.
3. Now, for a little update on makeup and dry eye issues: Water proof eye make-up, mascara, shadow, etc., has a much higher discomfort and sometimes toxic reaction to the sensitive skin of dry eye sufferers. Also keep your makeup fresh, disposing old bottles after 2-3 months. Thoroughly clean off your make up every night.
4. Contact lenses are not just an aggravating factor, but can also cause dry eye damage to the cornea. Daily disposable lenses are the safest for dry eye patients. Never wear your contacts if your eyes are red and uncomfortable.
5. Up until now we have recommended avoiding too much caffeine as it is a mild diuretic. More recent studies have shown a reduced risk of dry eye in coffee drinkers and that caffeine can stimulate tear production. A little caffeine also shortens ophthalmic migraine symptoms. Treating a patient’s dry eye condition has also been shown to reduce the frequency of their migraine attacks.
6. Be aware that children can also suffer from dry eyes, secondary to congenital endocrine, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. If your child has persistent complaints of painful, irritated eyes, don’t just treat them with artificial tears and ignore it… Bring it to the attention of your pediatrician and eyecare professional.
7. And yes, those simple carbs that are bad for the waistline are also bad for your eyes. They compete with the complex carbs needed by ocular tissue and aggravate your dry eye symptoms.
Do you need any more evidence that Dry Eye Disease is a very complex problem that needs something more than an artificial tear once or twice a day?
– By Richard Hector, MD