Solutions to your dry eye problem may not be what you would typically expect. Here are some surprising, yet effective solutions to relieve your dry and itchy eyes.
Remember to Blink
If we get in the habit of locking in for near-point work, our respiration and blink rate decrease. I had a patient a number of years ago who was the epitome of this situation. She had one of the most severe cases of dry eye that I had ever heard. She had been to ten ophthalmologists in ten years seeking any sort of assistance. Her eyes constantly ached every waking moment. She had punctal plugs put in her eyelids to decrease the amount of fluid draining from the eye. She had used every dry eye product on the market.
Her “solution” for survival was to use eye drops extensively during the day, and then at night she would put a blob of Lacri-Lube, a very thick ointment for severe dry eyes somewhat the consistency of toothpaste, in each eye. She would then wrap her eye area with Saran Wrap™ to make a moisture chamber to keep the moisture from the Lacri-Lube in her eyes. Then she would use a thick two-inch hair band to keep the Saran Wrap™ in place. That had been her mode of survival to deal with the agony of her dry eyes.
After reading the chapter on blinking in Relearning to See, she realized that she had overridden and totally deactivated her normal blink reflex. Throughout the day, she was just staring at everything and almost never blinking. She did the blinking exercises mentioned in the book, and in two weeks, all her dry eye symptoms had totally vanished! That story, to me, is the height of the simplest of cures for a severe problem.
Cut Out Artificial Sweeteners
Another area related to dry eye that has profoundly greater significance for general health is the use of artificial sweeteners. I have had several patients over the years where we have seen a significant dry eye and eye discomfort associated with the use of artificial sweeteners.
One of the first instances was several years ago when we were fitting a fifteen-year-old young man with soft contact lenses. Several months before, we had fit one of his older sisters with soft contacts, so when he came in to get contact lenses, I did a diagnostic fitting using the same brand of lenses that his sister was successfully using. We put on the lenses and let them settle for fifteen minutes. When we went to check his vision, surprisingly, he could not see the 20/20 line in each eye, and vision was blurry. There was no additional lens power I could place over the top of the contact lenses that improved acuity.
When I looked with the microscope at his eyes, the contact lenses literally had a coating. It looked like the lenses of someone who had over worn their contacts and had not taken them out for weeks. There was a mucous film on the contacts definitely accounting for the decreased acuity. This was in a fifteen-year-old “healthy” young man.
In questioning him, I happened to ask if he was hydrating. He said he was drinking water. I asked about any other fluids he was drinking. He said, “I have a diet pop in my lunch that I take to school every day.” Knowing there are a number of articles related to harmful effects associated with artificial sweeteners, I asked him to run a science experiment. For the next three weeks, he stopped taking the diet pop with him to school and drank water instead.
We saw him three weeks later and tried the exact same type of contact lens in his eyes. After letting the contacts settle, fifteen minutes later he could clearly read better than 20/20 in each eye. The contacts were wetting perfectly, and there was no sign of the film that we had seen three weeks prior. This has continued to be not an uncommon occurrence in our office with contact lens wearers who are having, for unknown reasons, issues with contact lens comfort or clarity.
Though the artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA, I would highly recommend anyone using them to reconsider and look into the many studies that show they do not help with weight loss but are often associated with significant other health difficulties.
Dry Eye Drops and Corneal Cells
One line of dry eye product that we have found very helpful for dry eye treatment is a product from Natural Ophthalmics, a homeopathic company out of Colorado. Their gel drop, which can be used at nighttime, has been very effective for a number of patients. Most of the repair of our corneal cells takes place at night, and we turn over a new corneal epithelium—top layer of the cornea—every seven to ten days. There are extreme metabolic changes taking place at the corneal level as well. When a person has a tendency toward dry eye and his new cells are getting laid down and repaired at night, if some of those cells end up sticking to the inside of the eyelid, it is going to peel off just like a Band-Aid pulling a scab when the person wakes in the morning. It can pull off some of those newly formed cells causing a recurrence of the injury to the cornea. It can set up for a recurrent corneal abrasion or erosion where night after night the repair continues to be peeled back.
The Natural Ophthalmics gel drop has been very effective for helping not only to provide increased thickness of moisture and decrease the possibility of the cells being removed but the homeopathic properties in the drops are tending to nudge the body in the direction of helping fix the underlying problem leading to the dry eye. Please see my website for the availability of these drops.