Prevent Dry Eye Syndrome In The Elderly
Dry eyes are one of the most common problems older men and women face. With age, our eyes become more sensitive to things like wind and light because the body’s mucous membranes produce fewer secretions.
Simple changes in our diets, medications, and environments can help soothe the pain and discomfort. If dry eye is left untreated, the cornea can develop ulcers and other severe eye problems.
Dry Eye Defined
What is dry eye?
Dry eyes is a common condition that occurs when your tears aren't able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don't produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.
Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.
Other names for dry eye include dry eye syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dysfunctional tear syndrome, lacrimal keratoconjunctivitis, evaporative tear deficiency, aqueous tear deficiency, and LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LNE).
Treatments for dry eyes may make you more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eyedrops. You'll likely need to take these measures indefinitely to control the symptoms of dry eyes.
What are the types of dry eye?
1) Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is a disorder in which the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the watery component of tears to maintain a healthy eye surface.
2) Evaporative dry eye may result from inflammation of the meibomian glands, also located in the eyelids. These glands make the lipid or oily part of tears that slows evaporation and keeps the tears stable.
Dry eye can be associated with:
- inflammation of the surface of the eye, the lacrimal gland, or the conjunctiva;
- any disease process that alters the components of the tears;
- an increase in the surface of the eye, as in thyroid disease when the eye protrudes forward;
- cosmetic surgery, if the eyelids are opened too widely.
Prevent Dry Eye Syndrome In The Elderly
1. OTC Lubrication
Also known as artificial tears, these work to supplement the body’s normal tear production. Artificial tears may be all you need to control mild dry eye symptoms. Some people need to put drops in several times a day, and some use them only once a day.
2. Natural Supplements
Natural supplements such as flaxseed oil and Omega-3 are a great way to decrease your dry eye symptoms. Fatty acids are proven to do this. By eating more cold-water fish like salmon, herring, cod, and sardines, you can get the dosage of Omega-3 fatty acids you need. Staying away from foods and drinks that contain caffeine can also reduce your dry eye symptoms, as caffeine is known to dehydrate.
3. Foods rich in vitamin A
Besides foods rich in omega-3, the elderly also need additional foods rich in vitamin A to take care and protect their eyes. Foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots, milk, almonds, green vegetables ... In addition, green tea and chamomile tea is very useful to improve dry eye, eye aches while fighting.
4. Specialised eyewear
Some cases of dry eye disease can be treated using specialised eyewear. These include specially made glasses called moisture chamber spectacles. These wrap around your eyes like goggles, helping to retain moisture and protecting your eyes from irritants.
If your previous contact lenses were causing dry eye disease, special contact lenses are also available. You should discuss various options with your high street optometrist.
5. Drink Water
Water consumption is the best way to keep your body hydrated, including your skin and eyes especially if you live in dry, hot, or cold locations. And it’s usually free of charge.
6. Adjust your computer
If you regularly use a computer, make sure your computer workstation is set up correctly to minimise eye strain. Your monitor (screen) should stand at eye level or just below it.
You should also make sure that you take breaks away from your computer screen every hour and blink your eyes regularly.
7. Apply a warm washcloth to your eyes
Wet a clean cloth with warm water. Hold the cloth over your eyes for five minutes. Rewet the cloth with warm water when it cools. Gently rub the washcloth over your eyelids - including the base of the eyelashes - to loosen any debris.
8. Eyelid massage
- gently massage your closed eyes by rolling your little finger in a circular motion
- take a cotton wool bud and, with your eyes shut, gently roll the cotton bud downwards on the upper eyelid towards the lashes and edges of the eyelids
- repeat this process along the whole width of the upper and lower eyelids
This process may cause your eyes to become slightly irritated at first, a bit like getting soap in your eyes, but this is normal and should get better with time.
9. Use a humidifier or air filter
A humidifier at work and home will moisten the surrounding air and can help reduce symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Opening windows for a few minutes on cold days and longer in spring and summer will also help keep air moist and prevent a build-up of mould.
10. Use a mild soap on your eyelids
Use baby shampoo or another mild soap. Put the cleanser on your clean fingertips and gently massage your closed eyes near the base of your eyelashes. Rinse completely.
11. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.
Talking to Your Eye Doctor
Which over-the-counter medications do you recommend to your patients and which ones do you not care for? Why?
Do you think I would benefit more from prescription-strength dry-eye medication?
Which vitamins and nutrients should I increase my intake of?
Based on the cause of my dry eyes, what treatment options do I have?
How much does treatment cost? Does my insurance cover any of the costs?
What are some of the complications of dry eye?
What can I do at home and at work to prevent my eyes from drying out?
How often do you treat dry eye syndrome in older patients?