How to Relieve Summer Dry Eye

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  • By Robin Westen

    Are your eyes more dried out in the summer? If the answer is yes, it’s probably because you’re living in an area that is hot and without much humidity. Or you have chronic dry eye, which means no matter what the season, your eyes are no longer retaining their natural moisture. But don’t despair; there are plenty of remedies to counteract the condition:

    Take Vitamin A

    A is one of the main vitamins in tears (the natural source of moisture to the eyes). Taking a supplement daily or eating foods rich in Vitamin A, which include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe, milk, egg yolks and dried apricots, can help.

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  • Eat Essential Fatty Acids or Omega-3 Supplements Take supplements of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 to repair and protect cells and body tissues that have been damaged. Sources of fatty acids are fish, flaxseed and primrose oils.
  • Take Reading Breaks When you read or work at a computer, you can forget to blink, which keeps the fluid that you do have from getting spread out over your eyes. Since it’s practically impossible to consciously tell yourself to blink just take a break around every 10 minutes. That way, you’ll naturally return to your normal blink rate.
  • Avoid Irritants Pollen, pollution, smoke, and other airborne particles won’t necessarily dry out your eyes. But they can make already dry eyes feel uncomfortable and red. So run a filtered air-conditioner during the summer, and wear the kind of sunglasses that wrap around your eyes in windy, dusty areas. Sunglasses will also keep the bright light from the sun from irritating your sensitive eyes.
  • Artificial Tears The use of artificial teardrops or ointments is the most frequent treatment for dry eye. They’re available over the counter. No one drop works for everyone, so you might have to experiment to find the drop that works for you. If you have chronic dry eye, it is important to use the drops even when your eyes feel fine, to keep them lubricated. If your eyes dry out while you sleep, you can use a thicker lubricant, such as an ointment, at night.
  • Consider Taking the Next Step If all else fails, there's procedure known as punctal occlusion. The tear ducts are plugged so that moisture will be held around the eyes to improve lubrication and reduce the need for artificial tears. Temporary plugs are often inserted to determine if the procedure will be effective. If so, permanent ones can be put in.

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    About the Author

    Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-written with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."