Dry eye care you can do at home

October 26, 2020

One of the questions I get asked most often is how to treat dry eyes. For some patients, they have been on a roller coaster of dry eye treatments and therapies before they land in my exam chair searching for answers, but for many they are just beginning to experience dry eye symptoms and want to know what they can do about it. I firmly believe that the first line of defense in dry eye care and prevention happens right in your own home. Usually the first things that I will discuss with patients who are experiencing dry eye symptoms revolves around how they are caring for their lids and lashes and typically the answer is that they aren’t doing anything at all!

What can you do to prevent dry eye?

The first step of home care is simply cleaning your eyelids and eyelashes every day. Eyelid inflammation, called blepharitis, can be caused by an over-abundance of bacteria and dust mites (called demodex.) These bacteria and mites can cause redness, irritation and dry eye symptoms, and can affect the oil glands of your eyelids leading to more chronic dry eye and even infections.

The best way to avoid these issues is to clean your lids and lashes daily. Several cleansers are available that are specifically designed for the eye area, but I recommend using one that contains tea tree oil. Why? Because tea tree oil is naturally anti-microbial AND dust mites hate the stuff! In our office we prefer We Love Eyes brand and it is what we recommend to patients. It was developed by an optometrist, is non-toxic and cruelty-free, and has formulas for both natural lashes (oil-based) and lash extensions (water-based.)

When done correctly, warm compresses can be magical. Of course a quick 1 minute soak with a lukewarm wash cloth doesn’t cut it. To benefit from warm compresses they need to be at a constant temperature for at least 6-7 minutes to melt the thick oil in the glands. This will allow it to express easier and do it’s job… keeping your tears from literally evaporating from the surface of your eyeballs.  I recommend a warm compress mask for the job and like the D.E.R.M. mask from Eye Eco. Warm compresses only work if you are consistent, so I prescribe a warm compress treatment, at home, at least three times a week… but again, daily is magical!

We have both of these products in our office and do local curbside pickup or ship anywhere in the U.S.

What do you do if these things don’t improve your symptoms?

It is time for a dry eye evaluation with your eye doctor to discuss the many treatment options. From prescription medications to punctal plugs, amniotic membranes, meibomian gland expression or scleral contact lenses, there are so many options for treatment. Using a million eye drops every day or just suffering with miserable symptoms isn’t necessary!

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