In part 1 of our Dry Eye Disease (DED) blog series, we discussed that when your eyes are technically dry, they can often feel overly water and tear up for no apparent reason. Dry eyes are especially common here in the Okanagan due to our dry climate. In part 2, we’ll shift our focus to discuss practical management strategies that can be helpful if you suffer from DED.
At Inspired Eyes Optometry, we provide our downtown Kelowna patients with both general recommendations (applicable for all dry eye patients) as well as personalized recommendations, which are designed to be used in conjunction with one another. Below are some of the general recommendations we would routinely make for you if you show signs of DED:
- Control of Environmental Factors: Use a humidifier and/or reduce fan use at home and work, avoiding smoky or dusty environments when possible
- Hydration: Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and minimizing alcohol consumption
- Smoking: Do not smoke and avoid all second-hand smoke as these can both contribute to and worsen dry eye symptoms
- Re-evaluate Systemic Medications: Certain medications can be making your dry eye worse. These include, but are not limited to, certain antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, beta-blockers, and oral contraceptives. Although the benefits of these medications often outweigh the risks, you may consider asking your Physician if a reduction or change in medications is an option for you
- Contact Lenses: Discuss with your Optometrist whether reducing wear time, switching to daily wear lenses, or discontinuing contact lens wear would be beneficial
- Computer “Hygiene”: Since we automatically blink less on the computer, we recommend the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes while on the computer. Remember to consciously blink and use lubricating drops, if necessary, during these breaks
Recommendations become more specific when we consider how important diet is for Dry Eye. Being an inflammatory condition, most studies related to dry eye and nutritional factors have focused on the benefits of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Benefits have been observed by supplementing with 1-3g of EPA & DHA (the Omega-3 fats found naturally in cold-water fish and seafood) per day, so we often make this recommendation, especially if your diet tends to be low in fish and seafood. In addition, decreasing ultra-processed and packaged foods has a significant impact on reducing inflammatory fats found in high Omega-6 seed oils like soybean, corn or sunflower oils.
Another crucial factor if you are experiencing dry eye is the quality and frequency of lubricating eye drops you use. We recommend using a preservative-free drop, though the exact drop composition and frequency of use varies based on findings at your Vision Wellness Assessment. In addition, there are several prescription eye drops that can very effectively reduce the chronic inflammation for dry eye sufferers.
Once a plan and management protocol is established for you, it’s important to follow up 3-6 months after the initial appointment (at Inspired Eyes, these are “Vision Wellness Assessments”) to evaluate the improvement of your specific signs and symptoms. Symptoms are monitored via a validated questionnaire given at the Vision Wellness Assessment and the Dry Eye follow-up.
Located in the heart of downtown Kelowna, our comprehensive Optometry clinic accepts new patients for Vision Wellness Assessments where we can properly evaluate and treat your dry eyes.
Have questions or about this article? Contact your local Kelowna Optometrist, Dr. Danny Walker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Danny Walker hails from Mississauga, Ontario, and has been practicing Optometry in the Okanagan for the past three years. Dr. Walker completed both his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees at the University of Waterloo, graduating in 2012. At Inspired Eyes Optometry, Dr. Walker enjoys being able to provide his patients with thorough examinations and personalized eye care. He has a special interest in protecting and maintaining optimal visual wellness through a variety of factors that include lifestyle and nutrition.
Dr. Walker is available for morning, daytime, evening and Saturday appointments at Inspired Eyes Creative Eyewear & Optometry. Call (250) 862-5900 or Book Online.