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How to Avoid the Sting of Dry Eyes

How to Avoid the Sting of Dry Eyes

When Walt Disney decided to follow the original storyline in Bambi and keep the scene in which the fawn’s mother is killed by a hunter, he took a lot of heat for it, reportedly even from his daughter. But the result was a movie classic, and whenever it’s shown, there’s not a dry eye in the house.

But watching Bambi won’t help the 40 million North Americans who struggle with burning, itchy, sensitive eyes. This irritation is caused by a lack of tears or poor tear quality. Tears are made up of water, oil, and mucus. Water creates the tears. Oil prevents evaporation. The mucous layer spreads tears across the eye. If there’s not enough oil or mucus, you get what’s called dry eye. Not enough water? Then you have keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)—or dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye can be triggered by certain medications, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, eyelid inflammation, blockage of the oil-producing glands, pollution, or even LASIK surgery.

Related: Blame Big City Pollution For Dry Eyes

Preservative-free artificial tears can ease the discomfort. But chronic dry eye can lead to cornea damage. Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory, is the only available prescription medicine. It increases tear production, but takes up to six months, used twice daily, to get results. Other ways to ease the discomfort from dry eye include keeping indoor humidity above 30%, wearing sunglasses, and making sure your diet includes plenty of omega-3 fats, from salmon, walnuts, and avocados. And consider 900IU of DHA omega-3 supplements daily; they can ease inflammation in your tear glands to help relieve dryness.

Related: How to Prevent Dry Eyes

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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