We have discussed a wide range of treatment options for dry eye disease: from over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, to prescription drops like Restasis or Xiidra, and even options like punctal plugs or Meibomian gland expression. These are all important potential treatments for those who are suffering from dry eyes, but even more options exist. Some steps can be taken to help reduce symptoms of dryness, burning, and irritation, and these steps may be easier than you think. While it is important to continue treatment as directed by your eye doctor in regards to your dry eye disease, here are some other tips, tricks, and remedies that may help provide additional relief.
Diet and Nutrition Supplements
Some doctors recommend adding nutritional supplements to your diet in order to help lessen the symptoms of dry eye disease. In particular, omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil are two dietary factors that may be beneficial. Both of these fatty acids can reduce inflammation associated with dry eye disease and other chronic conditions throughout the body, and using them in conjunction with artificial tears or other treatment options can reduce symptoms including burning and stinging. Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in foods like salmon and tuna, and is also in a variety of nuts and seeds. Flaxseed oil found less commonly in typical foods, but can be in cereals, grains and pastas. Both are also available as supplementary capsules or pills. Before beginning to take dietary supplements like omega-3 or flaxseed oil, talk with your primary care doctor to ensure they are safe to take.
Talk to Your Primary Care Doctor
If you have been chronically struggling with symptoms of dry eye disease, your primary care doctor should be included in your management and treatment considerations. There are a variety of systemic diseases that can cause or contribute to severe dryness and irritation, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. If you have these conditions and they are not adequately controlled, they could be contributing to the burning and dryness you feel in your eyes. There are also many systemic medications that may cause dry eyes as a side effect. Many of the medications we take are necessary to allow our bodies to work properly, so adjusting or changing medications is not always an option. However, by discussing with your primary care doctor, you may gain a better understanding as to whether or not your medications are contributing to your dry eye symptoms.
Smoking and Dry Eyes
Smoke from tobacco products can be a huge problem for those who suffer from dry eye disease. The many chemicals in these products are known to trigger and worsen symptoms such as burning, stinging, and grittiness. Even vaping products or e-cigarettes have been associated with an increase in symptoms of dry eye disease. If you are a smoker yourself, seek help to quit using tobacco products; improvement in dry eye symptoms is just one of the many health benefits of stopping the use of cigarettes and tobacco products. If you are not a smoker but know you will be in an environment where smoking is present, consider using artificial tears before you have to be around the smoke.