Spring is always a great time to see the freshness and vivid colors of nature. Unfavorable environmental conditions, however, can affect the way we experience Mother Nature’s beauty.
During this “season of allergy”, catkin, pollen, and dust float freely on a relatively warm but dry spring breeze, making a brutal combination for people already suffering from different respiratory issues. And this unpleasant concoction also affects our eyes, leaving them more prone to symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES).
According to OASIS International Hospital, DES is a “chronic condition when the eye does not produce tears properly or when tears evaporate too quickly, making it uncomfortable to do usual activities like reading or using computers.”
That usually occurs when spring and summer temperatures become too high that they dry out our body membranes, including the tear film in our eyes.
OASIS says DES may also be caused by biological factors (like hormonal changes or advancing age) or pre-existing eye health conditions (such as eye damage due to deteriorating health or infections), or even optical interventions (like modifications in the eye or the use of contact lens).
How to know if you have dry eye syndrome?
A common symptom is a burning sensation around your eyes, making looking at something very uncomfortable. Other symptoms include:
– Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
– Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
– Eye fatigue and sensitivity to light
– Eye redness with periods of excessive tearing
– Difficulty wearing contact lenses
– Blurred vision, often worsening at the end of the day or after focusing for a prolonged period.
An allergy is more likely to cause itchy eyes and nasal congestion, which may exacerbate DES symptoms. So it’s better to consult with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and know which medication to take. But keep in mind that some over-the-counter anti-allergy drugs may cause dry eye as a side effect.
Five tips for dry eyes
Adjusting some daily habits or avoiding irritants are the first ways to help maintain moist eyes. Here are some tips from OASIS International Hospital:
1. Put a warm and damp compress to your eyes to assist with tear secretion. Do this for two to three minutes per eye to sooth and bring moisture to it.
2. Use a humidifier indoors to regulate moisture. Not only this helps the eyes, but it also hydrates the skin and moisturizes the sinuses and nasal passages. Turn it on especially at night, when your eyes need more moisture to combat dry conditions.
3. Blink frequently to lubricate your eyes. There are activities that require visual concentration and sometimes they result in eye fatigue. Blinking smears tears around the eyes. You can also use eye drops to lubricate the eyes.
4. Watch your diet. Drink water often. Coffee and tea also work. Foods like squash and carrots have vitamin A that is good for the eyes. Meanwhile, fish have omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
5. Wear sunglasses. This protects your eyes from the drying effects of the wind or ultraviolet (UV) light reflected by light surfaces. These environmental conditions impact the eyes and can cause keratitis or inflammation of the cornea, making the eyes sore or red and very sensitive to light.
If you still feel pain, or if your eyes get irritated further, visit your ophthalmologist immediately.
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