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No one likes itchy, red, dry eyes, but everyone seems to suffer from dry eye every now and then. You may have seasonal allergies. The air quality in your work or home environment may be dry and polluted. You may be getting older, with hormonal and physiological changes occurring all over your body. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to suffer in silence. You can greatly reduce your suffering and the occurrence of dry eye by changing a few bad habits and picking up some good ones.

TAKE A BREAK FROM CONTACTS

If you regularly wear contacts as your primary corrective lenses, you may want to take a break from wearing them, especially if you’re going to be in an allergy-triggering environment. If you know that you’re going to be outside on a windy day, especially when there’s a lot of pollen blowing around, either wear a pair of sunglasses or other protective eyewear, or forgo the contact lenses for the day.

ADD OMEGA-3S TO YOUR DIET

Whether it’s from allergies or a dry environment, inflammation is one of the main causes of dry eye. If you can treat the inflammation that’s causing your eyes to dry up, you won’t need lubricating eye drops, and you won’t suffer from itchy, red eyes anymore. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil act as anti-inflammatory agents throughout the body, and many people attest to fish oil’s effectiveness in reducing the occurrence of dry eye.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICATION?

Dry eye can sometimes be a side effect of taking medication. Drugs associated with dry eye include, but are not limited to:

  • Hormone replacement medication
  • Some acne treatments
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Decongestants and antihistamines
  • Some birth control pills
  • Some antidepressants

If you’re taking any of these drugs and you experience dry eye, talk to your doctor about an alternative medication. If there is no alternative, you can safely lubricate your eyes with over-the-counter eye drops every two to four hours.

CHANGE YOUR FILTERS

If your eyes are fine all day but then get dry and itchy when you get home, you’re probably reacting to the quality of the air in your home. When was the last time you changed the air filter in your HVAC unit? Air filters are intended to last between one and four months. If left in longer, they’ll cease to function effectively, and the air quality in your home will suffer.

If you experience dry eye at home, try changing your air filters and see if the condition gets better. If it persists, take a good look around you at any other allergens or triggers, and don’t hesitate to talk with your eye doctor about the problem.

WASH YOUR FACE

When makeup, dirt, and oil build up on and around your eyelids and eyes, you can develop blepharitis(inflamed eyelids), which can cause dry eye. When you wash your face in the morning and at night, use a mild cleanser and a soft cloth to gently wipe away oil, dirt, and grease from your eyelids.

If your eyes are irritated, run warm water over a washcloth and make a warm compress to hold against your eyes for a few minutes. When you’re done with the compress, gently massage your eyelids with your fingers to spread your tears’ oil around on your eyes and better lubricate them.

If you have chronic dry eye, make an appointment with your eye doctor for a professional diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

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