There are a number of situations where people with dry eye need special consideration.
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- Take breaks! Don’t overdo it. Take breaks to give your eyes a rest.
- If possible keep your eyes closed for a little while now and then, such as during phone calls.
- Use warm compresses or cool compresses (ice gel pack, or simply a bag of ice & water) during a break if possible.
- Drink LOTS OF WATER and fewer caffeinated beverages.
- Don’t forget to consult the human resources department (if applicable). In many cases they can be an important asset in getting accommodations made for your needs. Be assertive in speaking up about your needs. Explain your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms. Completing an OSDI questionnaire and showing your score may be helpful in communicating what you are struggling with.
- Fluorescent lights, and any overly bright light causing excessive reflection, can be a problem for people with dry eye due to photosensitivity.
- Try to make light adjustments (such as removing fluorescent bulbs immediately overhead) that will reduce brightness and minimize reflection on computer screens or other surfaces.
VENTILATION & HUMIDITY
- Vents: Try to make sure you’re seated well away from any vents if at all possible. Or, ask to have vents redirected or (if necessary) closed.
- Humidifier: If you have sufficient space to yourself you may be able to install a humidifier.
- Anti-glare screen or filter: Cuts down on reflected light to make computer use more comfortable
- Angle of monitor: Try adjusting your monitor so that it is as low as possible and so you are looking slightly down at it rather than straight across or (worst) up. Looking down reduces total eye surface exposure, hence tear evaporation.
- Blink frequently: Make a conscious effort to blink more often. Blink rates decrease dramatically when using the computer and this effect causes dry eye symptoms even in people who do not have dry eye disease – how much more those who do!
- Lubricate: Keep eyedrops handy and lubricate as needed.
- Anything may be better than nothing: Anything in front of the eyes is going to reduce airflow across the eyes at least somewhat and therefore may have some useful effect of lessening tear evaporation and irritation.
- Plano glasses: Even if you don’t normally wear glasses, a nice looking pair of frames with a no-prescription lens may be an aesthetically acceptable way to get a little boost.
- Acrylic sheath: There are several products available to cover the area at the sides of your glasses to prevent moisture loss.
- Panoptx: Panoptx has very expensive wraparound eyewear but for many people are well worth the investment as they dramatically reduce airflow and evaporation. They can be obtained with prescription, even bifocal.
Dry Eye at Night
Below are some basic suggestions for keeping night dryness under control, starting with the simplest. Of course, not all of these factors are applicable to all patients, but you may find that one or more of them is important in your case.
EYE LUBRICATION (e.g. tears, gels, etc):
This is a fundamental (and obvious) part of overnight protection: applying a lubricant – artificial tear, teargel, gel, or ointment. However, at night lubrication has its limits as well as its pitfalls. Conventional wisdom has it that viscous (thick) products such as gels or ointments should be used at night. Please understand we’re not doctors and can’t speak authoritatively. Nevertheless, we don’t think this is right. We’ve had so very many reports over the years from patients getting progressively worse using a greasy ointment every night that we feel a lot of concern over long-term use of ointments for night protection. [Please note, if your doctor has prescribed ointment please DO NOT discontinue it without their permission and an agreed upon alternative strategy.] We humbly submit the idea that using artificial tears or non greasy gels plus stepping up other forms of protection (see below) may be a better and safer route. In addition, there are many patients for whom no lubricant however viscous will get them through a night anyway. So, read on:
PHYSICAL PROTECTION (e.g. Tranquileyes, sleep masks, or taping):
This is something relatively few people think of on their own but it can make an ENORMOUS difference in protecting vulernable, dry eyes against severe dryness, erosions and abrasions at night. What do we mean by physical protection? Simply covering your eyes effectively to reduce tear evaporation and keep in moisture. One reason this is so effective is that for many people, aggravated night symptoms may be related to an underdiagnosed condition called lagophthalmos, where the lids do not fully close. Eye protection can be as simple as a soft eye mask (like the type you can get for $2-3 at a drugstore to keep light out when you’re napping), or a thicker more effective sleep mask. But the current gold standard product for eye protection at night is called tranquileyes (by Eye Eco, Inc.) – a soft rubber mask with foam liners and wettable foam inserts that seals in moisture overnight. Relatively new on the market, Tranquileyes is in our opinion an important investment for chronic dry eye patients. Tranquileyes also has new self-heating inserts called thermoeyes to provide a super high moisture environment. Whatever you choose to use, try to keep your eyes covered at least part of the night. Don’t forget to keep it clean and dry: daily washing is in order.
HEAT, A/C, CEILING FANS (i.e. OFF):
Heat and A/C dry out the air in the bedroom and aggravate overnight symptoms. The less you use of either at night, the better. Please also consider airflow. To the extent you’ve got air vents directly over you, you’re going to suffer more than if not. Keep the ceiling fan off if possible as the increased airflow will contribute to more evaporation as well. During seasons, or in climates, where heavy use of heat or A/C is necessary, use of a humidifier and eye protection becomes even more important.
HUMIDIFICATION (i.e. ON):
A humidifier in the bedroom is indispensable for many chronic dry eye patients. Don’t just go out and buy the first one you see, though. Check out consumer guides. It’s also very important to keep your humidifier as clean as possible, otherwise it may contribute to the problem rather than help solve it.
HEAT TREATMENT (i.e. DO IT):
Just before bed is an excellent time to do your treatments for Meibomian gland dysfunction (failure of the oil glands in the eyelids to secrete enough oil to prevent rapid tear evaporation). Warm compresses, especially the rice baggy method, often result in excess oil secretions that blur vision for awhile, so bedtime can be a practical time for them, and some patients find that compresses just before bed help reduce their overnight symptoms.
If you believe you have dry eye, learn about various Dry Eye Treatments at the Dry Eye Treatment Centers of NY and NJ.