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  • Writer's pictureDr. Zimski

Dry Eyes? Here Are 5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider

The surface of your eyes are exposed to environmental factors day in, day out.

These factors include wind, high temperatures, low humidity, high altitude, allergens and air pollution.

There's not much we can do about it (unless we leave Colorado), but there are a few things we can do to increase our tear production and protect the surface of our eyes.  

Indeed, you can incorporate small changes into your daily routine that will not only improve your eyes, but your overall well being.

Here are five of them.

Dry Eyes? Here Are 5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider

#1 Take Breaks from Screens

Televisions, computers and cellphones play a role in eye discomfort. The American Academy of Ophthalmology talks about the “20-20-20 rule.” This refers to the practice of taking a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet or so away for 20 seconds before returning to work.

We believe mindful blinking exercises are much more effective. Not only do these simple exercises stimulate tear production, they also strengthen the muscle around your eyes (the orbicularis oculi) that is responsible for blinking.

We blink 66 percent less when using a computer, and over time our muscles responsible for blinking weaken, just like any other muscle that is used less often. 

Small changes in our daily routine make the biggest impact. For example, keeping your computer screen slightly below eye level can reduce tear evaporation and eye strain caused by prolonged screen usage. And using preservative-free artificial tears throughout the day when spending long hours on the computer can also help.

#2 Breathe!

Dry Eyes? Here Are 5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider

The "rest and digest" part of our autonomic nervous system (parasympathetic nervous system) innervates (provides nerves to) the lacrimal glands, which produce the tears we need to keep our eyes moist. 

There is scientific evidence that computer use stimulates our fight or flight nervous system (sympathetic nervous system), which leads to decreased tear production.  Deep breathing (inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds for 3 minutes) has been shown to increase our tear production, along with lowering blood pressure.

Breathing exercises can also go a long way towards reducing stress, as well. Win-win!

#3 Sleep!

Recent studies have shown that dry eye is associated with sleep disorders.  The sleep quality of dry eye patients has been shown to be significantly worse than the general population, with insufficient sleep or excessive sleep being most common.

It is unclear if poor sleep causes dry eye, or if it’s the other way around. It’s likely a little of both. Either way, sleep is vital to our well being, including our ocular health, and getting enough quality sleep should be a priority.

Dry Eyes? Here Are 5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider

#4 Protect Your Eyes Outdoors and Indoors

As we already said, Colorado’s high altitude, humidity, wind, and dry conditions can contribute to eye dryness. 

When outdoors, sunglasses or even regular prescription eyeglasses can protect your eyes from particles carried by the wind. Quality sunglasses give the added benefit of shielding your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Indoors, a humidifier can help keep your eyes comfortable. This is particularly true in the winter, when heating your home can contribute to eye dryness. Adjust your indoor surroundings to reduce exposure to air conditioning or heating vents that can dry out your eyes.

#5 Don’t Forget Eyelid Hygiene

Clean eyelids are better able to spread tears over the surface of your eyes. Blocked tear ducts can result in dry eye symptoms, so gently washing those eyelids or using warm compresses can go a long way towards alleviating your symptoms.

Dry Eyes? Here Are 5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider

And When You Need A Professional’s Help …

If you experience mild dry eye symptoms, lifestyle changes may be enough to provide relief. If your symptoms are more severe, Dr. Lauren Zimski is a trusted Denver-area doctor you can depend on for customized treatment plans. 

Schedule an appointment online or call 303-863-1231. First, take a few minutes to fill out our SPEED questionnaire and we’ll get in touch.

questionnaire and we’ll get in touch.


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