Caring for Dry Eye Syndrome

We’ve all experienced dry eyes. You go to a ball game on a hot, windy day. By the time you get home, your eyes feel raw. Or you attend a party where clouds of cigarette smoke hang over the guests.

Maybe you wear your contact lenses for longer than you should, or sit at a computer for several hours without blinking often enough. This results in tired and dry eyes.

Anything in the environment that irritates eyes can cause temporary dryness. Not blinking often enough can also dry your eyes out. Whenever you’re involved in a visually intense activity, such as reading, working on a computer, making crafts or sewing, you tend to blink less often. The fewer times you blink, the dryer your eyes become.

Each time we blink (automatically, about every 5 seconds) our efficient eye cleansing system takes over. Glands beneath the eyelids continually release tears. Then, like windshield wipers, the eyelids sweep the tears evenly across the eye surface. Dust and debris are cleaned away and eyes are kept comfortably moisturized.

To treat environmental causes of dryness, doctors recommend:

* Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to protect eyes from the wind.

* Taking breaks from reading or doing close work so eyes can re-moisturize.

* Adjusting your computer monitor so that it is just below eye level.

* Avoiding smoke-filled areas.