How to Prevent Dry Eyes During the Heat of the Summer
Dry eye syndrome (DES) occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears or the tears that are produced evaporate too quickly. Tears are vital for healthy eyes because they wash away dirt and debris, keep the eye moist and protect it from bacteria and infection. If left untreated, DES can lead to corneal scarring and potential vision loss.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Although DES affects people of all ages, it is more prevalent in older people because they tend to produce fewer tears. The National Eye Institute reports that almost five million Americans over the age of 50 experience dry eyes; it affects women nearly three times more often than men. A number of things can cause dry eyes, including: infrequent blinking, medications, hormonal changes in women during menopause, excessive or insufficient vitamin consumption and contact lenses.
How to Prevent Dry Eyes
In the summer, overexposure to the sun, wind, dry climate, allergies and chlorine can contribute to or worsen DES. Over-the-counter medications, such as artificial tears, ointments and gels, can offer temporary relief and serve as replacements for naturally produced tears.
In addition to these treatments, there are several other things you can do to prevent dry eye syndrome or ease the symptoms of it during the heat of summer:
1. Wear glasses or sunglasses. Wearing close-fitting glasses, wraparound sunglasses or glasses that have side shields can reduce the evaporation of tears from the surface of the eye, help your eye retain its moisture and prevent dirt and other irritants from getting into your eye.
2. Add moisture. Use a humidifier to increase the amount of moisture in your house. This will cause your tears to evaporate more slowly.
3. Purify the air. Use an air cleaner to filter out pollen and other impurities in your home.
4. Rest your eyes. Take frequent rest periods if you work at a computer for extended times or perform any other activity, such as reading, that requires you to use your eyes for prolonged periods.
5. Reduce breezes. Decrease the speed of ceiling and oscillating fans to reduce excessive air movement. Also, avoid sitting under or near an air conditioner vent.
6. Use compresses. Applying a warm compress to your eyes before going to bed can help stimulate the secretion of oil. Failure of the oil glands in your eyelids to secrete enough oil can lead to rapid tear evaporation.
7. Utilize overnight protection. Wearing a soft eye mask at night can reduce tear evaporation and help your eyes retain moisture.
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