Living in Honolulu, we don’t exactly get “winter”. When February is your coldest month and it’s still only 65 degrees at night, you really can’t complain.
But even if the temperatures are more moderate, it doesn’t mean you’ll never get dry eye syndrome. Keep reading to find out why and what you can do if you do have dry eyes!
What causes dry eye syndrome?
The main reason why you can get dry eye while living in Honolulu is that there are a lot of things that cause dry eye. Yes, dry eye can occur because of colder temperatures, but there’s a little more to it than that.
For many people, dry eye occurs because of the eye being unable to produce enough tears or the tears that they do produce are low-quality.
Other common causes of dry eye include:
- Age, as we get older dry eye is more likely to occur
- Medications, taking medications like antihistamines and blood pressure medications can cause dry eye
- Medical conditions, if you have any medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, you are more likely to have dry eye
- Eye conditions, if you have any eye conditions like diseases of the cornea, have had any refractive surgeries, or wear contact lenses, these can cause dry eye.
- Environmental factors, like smoke, high winds, or low humidity can cause an increase in the evaporation of tears
- Decreased blink rate, this can happen if you spend too long looking at a screen while focusing on a task
What does the tear film have to do with it?
When the eye is producing high-quality tears, the tear film is made up of three components:
The inner layer is a mucin layer. This is a protective lubricant and provides the eye with a smooth surface. This allows the tears to be evenly distributed over the surface of the eye.
The middle layer is an aqueous layer, made of water, proteins, salt, and oxygen. This layer gives the surface of the eye the necessary nutrients while also removing waste and prevents infection.
The outer layer is a lipid layer. This layer has oils that coat the aqueous layer while acting as a sealant. This prevents tears from evaporating from the surface of the eye and also prevents them from overflowing onto the lower eyelid.
If any of these layers of the tear film are somehow missing, it can lead to the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome. For people with dry eye, their tears are usually only made of water.
They lack the oils and mucin, so their tears are not distributed over the eye’s surface and may evaporate too quickly.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Although it’s called dry eye syndrome, this condition is about more than having dry eyes. Patients can experience dry eyes, but they may also experience these symptoms:
- Red eyes
- Foreign body sensation, like there’s something in your eye even if there’s nothing there
- Overproduction of tears
- Light sensitivity
- Eye pain or fatigue
- Pain when wearing contact lenses
- Burning sensation
- Sensitivity to smoke or wind in your eyes
- Decreased vision
- Blurry vision
- Eyes becoming tired from trying to focus or read
If you start to experience these symptoms, let your eye doctor know. To treat dry eye syndrome, it often takes several combinations to find the right treatment option for your symptoms.
What can I do about dry eye on my own?
If your dry eye isn’t severe, you can try some natural treatments and see if you find relief. For some people, making a few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to their symptoms of dry eye!
Drink more water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
If your eyes are dry, there’s a good chance that you’re dehydrated, even if you’re not thirsty. Did you know that if you are thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated?
Drinking enough water can seem so difficult, but if you want to have happier eyes, it’s the first thing you need to do! First things first, buy a cute water bottle.
Yes, it needs to be cute, because you’re going to carry this water bottle everywhere! The next thing you need to do is fill that water bottle up. And then do your best to drink from it regularly throughout the day.
You may want to set a reminder or alarm on your phone to go off every half hour to get into a good routine. There are also free apps you can download that can help you learn to drink more water.
Just search in the App Store if you have an iPhone or look online if you have something else. There are thousands of options out there! Drinking enough water has a trickle-down effect because it’s good for your eyes, your skin, and your whole body.
Take breaks if you work in front of a screen
There’s nothing wrong with working hard until you look at the clock at your desk and realize you haven’t moved a muscle in over 3 hours! For the sake of your eyes, don’t do this.
Seriously, you need to take frequent breaks if you work in front of a screen. This is even more important if you happen to work in front of several screens, which is more the norm.
When you do take a break, make sure it’s not to scroll through your phone. Take a break away from the screens for a few minutes, at the very least. Try to do this every twenty minutes. It’s better for your health and your eyes!
Stock up on eye drops and artificial tears
Indoors or outdoors, you need to have eye drops and artificial tears on you. If you have any dry eye symptoms, these are a lifesaver!
You do not want to be somewhere and feel like your eyes are sandpaper and find that you don’t have any artificial tears on you! When this happens, it is the worst! If you see they have a buy one, get one free sale on artificial tears at CVS, stock up.
Always have some artificial tears in your purse or bag. Keep a bottle of eye drops at your desk at work, and keep some vials near your bed in case your eyes get dry before bed.
Having them around will make you much more comfortable when the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome hit. Your eyes will feel a lot better if you can pull out your artificial tears right as they start to bother you.
Treating your dry eye is always better than letting it go and get worse.
Concerned about your dry eye symptoms getting the best of you? Sugiki Portis Yim Eye Center is here to help! Schedule an appointment with us in Honolulu, HI now and let us help you get your dry eye under control!