Dry eye disease (ocular surface disease) is quite common and has been around way before this COVID19 situation. However, this period of time has caused more online learning for children and students, increase in digital screen time for many that are still working from home, wearing masks that consistently cause unwanted airflow to the eyes, anxiety, fatigue, stress and more.
It is very important that you consult your eye doctor and try to remedy preexisting dry eye conditions or new onset of symptoms before it continues to worsen. Dry eye disease is rather complex and often involve the lacrimal glands, eyelids, and tear film. The functioning of the ocular surface tissues such as epithelial, inflammatory, immune, and goblet cells are also important in the recovery of dry eye disease. Other causes of dry eye disease can be due to acute or chronic preexisting health conditions, hormonal changes, long-term medication use, and other health issues that should be addressed by your family physician.
Listed below are a few things you could consider implementing in your daily routine in order to alleviate or combat your symptoms.
1. Schedule breaks from screen use: For kids or adults apply the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 ft away, and hold for 20 seconds.
2. Wear updated and properly fitted prescription glasses (blurry vision can cause eyestrain and worsen dry eye symptoms)
3. Increase blinking when looking at digital screens
4. Do not over wear contact lenses. Remember to have regular contact lens assessment so that your optometrist can introduce you to the latest technology and newest design of lenses that will offer the best comfort.
1. Cleansing the lids and lashes to maintain gland functions. There are options like preservative-free gel, foam, or pad type of cleaners (ask your eye doctor for their recommendations for your specific condition)
2. Use lubrication to maintain tear film (ask your eye doctor for their recommendations for your specific condition)
3. Warm compress therapy can help improve the circulation around the eyes and decongest blocked glands (consider purchasing a reusable/microwaveable heating pad)
4. Humidifier overnight and during day to improve moisture in eyes
5. Make sure face mask is secure around nose (wired type or medical tape will prevent air from seeping onto the ocular surface)
1. Stay hydrated
2. Nutrients for dry eyes/inflammation such as Omega 3 fish oil & Vit D (ask your doctor for recommendations)
3. Quality sleep and start an earlier bed time routine (avoid digital devices/blue-light exposure an hour prior to sleep)
4. Get moving with regular physical exercise, stretching, increase blood flow/ circulation