HOUSTON – Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions affecting around 20 million Americans.
More and more people are suffering from dry eye, a condition that happens when you don’t produce enough tears.
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It can happen due to chronic computer use (because we tend to stare at the screen without blinking), contact lenses, illnesses, hormonal changes and certain medications, including over-the-counter allergy meds.
“All oral antihistamines cause at least a little bit of dryness of the eyes,” said Dr. Rahul Pandit, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at Houston Methodist Hospital.
HOME REMEDIES FOR DRY EYE
Dr. Pandit also encourages patients to:
- Point the a/c away from you while you’re driving. The airflow onto your face can also dry your eyes.
- Don’t sleep with a fan pointed at your face.
- Try drinking more water or adding fish oil to your diet. A tear is made of 98 percent water and two percent oils, salt, and proteins.
- Try over-the-counter artificial tear drops.
- Next, take screen breaks. Try the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- A gentle eye massage can also help. Use a warm compress and gently massage the eyelids. This opens the glands that secrete oil onto the eyes.
“Each of our eyelids has about 30, what we call Meibomian glands, and they’re supposed to secrete oil, kind of like mineral oil. But in most cases... they come out like thick and crusty toothpaste, or they just don’t come out at all. So, they’re really not lubricating. So, when we talk about warm compresses, it’s designed to maybe melt those oils and have them flow out better,” Dr. Pandit explained.
NEW FDA-APPROVED DROPS
Now for the first time ever, Miebo, a prescription just approved by the FDA in August, provides a new option for patients who can’t find relief.
“It thickens up the oily layer of your tears. So, it’s like putting oil on water. You put a drop in your eye, and it just instantly coats your entire cornea giving it that silky-smooth feeling and it prevents your natural tears from evaporating,” Dr. Pandit said.
Pandit said he’s prescribed it to about 100 patients in just a few weeks and so far, the feedback is really good, he said, he prescribes it to all eye surgery patients because he said dry eyes can increase the risk of infection after surgery.