08 July, 2011
Does Drinking More Water Help Dry Eyes?
Your gender, age, climate, work environment and habits can make you vulnerable to dry eyes. The symptoms of dry eyes, redness, itchiness and burning, are uncomfortable and distracting. Mild dehydration can make the symptoms of dry eyes even worse.
One of the most common complaints eye doctors hear from patients is dry eyes. The glands in the eye do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. While it may seem contradictory, sometimes watery eyes can be a symptom of dry eyes. The eyes try to compensate for the dryness by overproducing tears. The lack of balanced lubrication results in eyes that are red, itchy and burn. Dry-eye sufferers commonly report feeling that something is in their eye.
Who is susceptible
While dry eyes affect a variety of people, certain people are more prone than others. Women seem to suffer from dry eyes more than men due to decreased tear production caused by hormonal changes throughout life. As they age, both men and women tend to experience dry eyes. Windy and dry climates often dry out eyes. Smokers, coffee drinkers, contact lens wearers and those who spend a lot of time in front of a computer or in a heated or air conditioned environment also tend to complain of dry eyes.
Drinking more water can help dry eyes. Dry eyes may be a signal that your body is dehydrated. The recommended amount of water is 8-10 glasses every day. However, you may have to drink more than the recommended amount to get relief from dry eyes, especially if you regularly drink diuretics such as coffee or other caffeinated beverages or live in a dry or windy climate. Sufficient water is vital for our body systems to function and necessary for our eyes to produce tears. Tears keep the mucous membrane covering the eye, the conjunctiva, moist and contain a neutralizing enzyme that combats infection. For optimal relief from dry eyes, drink the recommended amount of water every day.
In addition to drinking water, try to minimize or eliminate environmental factors and habits that put you at risk for dry eyes. If you live in a dry or windy climate, wear sunglasses. Quit smoking and drink caffeinated beverages in moderation. Contact lens wearers should not wear their contacts longer than recommended. If you stare at a computer screen for the majority of the day, make a conscious effort to blink and periodically look away from the screen to give your eyes a rest.
Consult with your eye doctor to determine whether additional treatment is needed for your dry eyes. If your symptoms do not improve by drinking more water alone, your eye doctor may diagnose you with "dry eye syndrome," a chronic lack of lubrication on the surface of the eye. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your eye doctor may recommend over-the-counter artificial tears, prescription eye drops or procedural intervention. Dry eyes can also be a side effect of many medications. Your doctor may need to adjust the dosage, or together you can weigh the pros and cons of the medication. Chronic dry eyes can be an indication of a disease process, so let your eye doctor know if your symptoms persist.