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How Not to Treat Dry Eyes (11 Mistakes to Avoid)

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Living with dry and gritty eyes can be more than uncomfortable. It can make it difficult for you to work on a computer, drive, read, or watch TV.

You may use artificial tears or seek home remedies for dry eyes. However, not all dry eye treatment options are effective. Some can even make your symptoms worse.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, we put together a list of the most common dry eye disease treatment mistakes. Be careful to avoid them.

1. Overusing Eye Drops

Eye drops for dry eyes are artificial tears that mimic the way natural tears work. Eye drops may soothe dry eye symptoms in the short term. But long-term use of artificial tears can make dry eyes worse.

Research shows that artificial tears are not effective for all patients with dry eyes. What’s more, eye drops can wash away your natural tears and the moisturizers these contain.

Often, eye drops only provide relief from dry eye symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of the condition. One exception to this is when your doctor prescribes antibiotic eye drops to treat dry eyes resulting from an eye infection.

2. Using the Wrong Eye Drops

Some eye drops contain preservatives like benzalkonium chloride (BAK), which may irritate the eyes. BAK has also been associated with punctate keratitis and ulcerative keratitis, two conditions that may decrease vision.

Eye drops for redness can also make dry eyes worse. This occurs because these eye drops have chemicals that shrink blood vessels in your eyes.

The bottom line is that when it comes to eye drops for dry eyes, it’s better to discuss their use with an eye doctor rather than buy them over the counter.

3. Taking Allergy Medication

A long list of medications may cause dry eyes or make existing dry eyes worse. These medications include beta-blockers used for treating high blood pressure, tricyclic antidepressants, and antihistamines used for treating allergies.

woman in a dark dress with long hair sneezing into a napkin while sitting in a chair

While some of these medications are important and you shouldn’t skip them, taking antihistamines for mild allergies could cause more problems than they treat.

If you know your allergy triggers and can stay away from them, it may not be worth putting up with medication-induced dry eye symptoms. All the more so if your dry eyes is making it harder for you to work.

4. Neglecting the Underlying Causes of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can have many underlying causes from infections and inflammatory diseases to tear gland dysfunction and hormonal changes due to menopause or pregnancy.

For some of these causes, medical dry eye syndrome treatment prescribed by a doctor can address the underlying problem. Even when a cure is not possible, targeted treatments may still improve symptoms in the long term.

Quick relief treatments like eye drops don’t target the underlying problem behind your condition.

5. Self-Treating Without Talking to Your Doctor

This point follows from the previous one. Although dry eyes is often mild, it may be the result of a more serious underlying problem. What’s more, dry eyes that is not treated properly may become in time chronic dry eye syndrome, a condition that can cause vision loss.

Simply following the latest treatment for dry eye syndrome available over the counter isn’t the best idea. If your dry eye is serious or doesn’t go away, it’s better to talk with an eye health specialist instead of self-medicating with over-the-counter eye drops or home remedies.

6. Expecting Miracles from Home Remedies

Using a warm compress or tea bags for eyes can soothe dry eye symptoms. These and other home remedies for dry eyes are easy to use and inexpensive. They can complement ongoing treatment for dry eyes and could make you less dependent on eye drops.

However, it’s important to set realistic expectations before using home remedies. Yes, these remedies can improve symptoms and may make mild dry eyes go away. But in moderate to severe cases of dry eyes, or when the condition has an underlying cause, they don’t provide a cure.

A healthier approach is to consider taking a natural, plant-based supplement formulated to support vision health in the digital age, like SightC.

A powerful superfood blend, SightC provides antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients from goji berries, turmeric, and other ingredients backed by science.

Learn more about SightC and how it can help your eyesight.

7. Continuing to Use Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses can dry out your eyes. This occurs because the contact lens that sits on your cornea (the transparent front part of the eye) limits the flow of oxygen to the eye. Your eye then struggles to produce enough tears.

When you have chronic dry eyes, switching to eyeglasses is a good idea. If you must wear contact lenses, you may want to read our post on how to choose contact lenses for dry eyes. In it, we take a closer look at contact lens material, water content, fit, and more to help you make an informed choice.

8. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for your overall health and your eyes. Poor sleep can decrease tear production and worsen dry eye symptoms. While your body can compensate for the occasional night out with friends, going to bed late regularly is one of the worst things you can do for your eyes.

woman yawning in her cubicle while taking a break from work

We dedicated a post to the effects of lack of sleep on eyesight. You may want to check it out. We also shared sleep hygiene tips that can help you sleep better at night. As an adult, you should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

9. Spending Long Hours in Front of Screens

Working extensively on a computer or spending hours on your phone can alter your blinking pattern, leading to more incomplete blinks. This promotes dry eyes. Some studies have also found a harmful association between blue light emitted by screens and dry eyes.

If your work requires that you spend hours in front of a computer, take regular breaks. Make this a habit by setting a reminder on your computer or phone.

Every 20 minutes, look away 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds – the 20-20-20 rule. Or if your office setup doesn’t allow it, simply close your eyes for 20 minutes.

10. Not Drinking Enough Water

Your tear glands and eyes need water to work at their best. Dehydration has been linked with dry eyes, which is why it’s not a good idea to drink dehydrating drinks like coffee or black tea on a warm day.

Some sources say that you need to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. But a recent population-based study found that greater habitual water intake didn’t lower the risk of dry eye disease – on the contrary, it increased it.

woman with sunglasses laughing while holding a glass of water in her right hand

So how much water should you drink? Your body will tell you – it’s important to listen to it. Signs of dehydration include lightheadedness, having a dry mouth, tiredness, and passing dark, strong-smelling urine.

You don’t have to limit yourself to water. Incorporate healthy water-based drinks in your diet like herbal infusions, lemonade, and smoothies.

11. Eating the Wrong Foods

Some foods can undermine vision health and increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that can affect your eyes. Common culprits include foods with added sugar, foods high in saturated fats and unhealthy refined oils, and refined carbs like white bread and pasta.

When it comes to dry eyes, you want to avoid highly processed foods as these are low in nutrients. Soft drinks and candy, for example, do little for your eyes or overall health while filling you up with calories.

We dedicated a whole post to the best foods for eye health. Check it out.

In the end, avoiding common dry eye syndrome treatment mistakes boils down to making healthy lifestyle choices and not overusing eye drops and other medications. Managing expectations when it comes to home remedies is also important.

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