There is a wide range of treatment options for dry eye disease, from lubricating artificial tears to in-office procedures like LipiFlow or punctal plug insertion. While we have discussed many of the extensive treatment options for dry eyes, but even more options exist. Some of these options are simple lifestyle modifications, while others are a more holistic approach to treatment. While it is important to continue to work with your primary eye care provider in the treatment of your dry eye disease, here are some other tips that may help provide additional relief from your symptoms.
Cut Out Tobacco Products
It is well known that cigarettes and other tobacco products are associated with many health risks. They also tend to worsen symptoms of dry eye disease. The smoke from these products is commonly a trigger for those with moderate to severe dry eyes, and should be avoided. Even e-cigarettes or vaping products may cause dryness and irritation. If you are a smoker, the worsening of dry eye symptoms is just one of the many reasons you should consider stopping the use of cigarettes. If you are not a smoker but are still triggered by the smoke of these products, consider carrying artificial tears with you when you know you will be in smoke-heavy environments.
Nutritional Supplements and Diet: Natural Treatments for Dry Eye
Many myths exist around the idea that diet affects eyesight – such as eating carrots will help improve your vision. While this particular myth may not be true, many doctors recommend adding certain nutritional supplements to your daily food intake in order to help the symptoms of dry eye disease. Flaxseed oil and omega-3 fatty acids are two specific supplements that have been found to be beneficial in treating dry eye disease. Both of these supplements may help reduce inflammation that is associated with dry eyes, as well as many other conditions throughout the body. Flaxseed oil can be found naturally in certain grains and cereals. Foods like salmon, tuna, nuts, and seeds are an excellent natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. Both flaxseed oil and omega-3 fatty acids can be found in capsules or tablets to easily add the nutrients to your daily intake. Before you begin taking a dietary supplement, you should consult with your primary care doctor to make sure they are safe for you to take.
Consider Systemic Conditions
Many other systemic problems and inflammatory conditions can lead to the development or worsening of dry eye symptoms. Autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, or Sjogren’s syndrome can contribute to chronic dryness, and if these conditions are not properly controlled the symptoms of dry eye disease will be even more difficult to treat. There is also the chance that systemic medications may be worsening your symptoms of dryness, burning, and irritation. Medications that many American’s rely on, such as high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, or even antidepressants, can significantly affect the production of tears and can contribute to ocular discomfort. While it may not be appropriate to discontinue these medications in order to address symptoms of dry eye disease, it is still important for you and your doctor to understand all the factors contributing to the condition.