The Best Products for Treating Dry Eyes, According to Ophthalmologists

I distinctly remember walking through the halls as a freshman with a severe case of dry eye and an unfortunate contact lens threatening to break free. My fierce blink was misinterpreted as a flirtatious wink by a group of boys I passed and from that day on they never missed an opportunity to remind me of it.

Fortunately, the high school trauma is behind me. However, the feeling of dryness, sand and burning in my eyes is not. And for many people struggling with chronic dry eye, it can be uncomfortable and disrupt daily life.

Dr. Mark J. Mannis, president of the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, told HuffPost what really happens when we have dry eyes and if we inadvertently use products that make it worse.

He said that the protective film that covers the surface of the eye is made up of three layers, the two most important being the water layer and a fatty lipid layer that prevents the water layer from evaporating.

“If the glands of the eye produce too little of either of these substances, a [person] suffers from dry eye. It can be influenced by taking certain medications or the inability of the eyelids to close properly,” Mannis said.

Dr. Natasha Hertz, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told HuffPost that it’s not just drugs that cause dry eyes. It may also be linked to a number of environmental factors that cause the natural tears produced by our body to evaporate faster.

″Smoke and highly polluted environments can lead to dry eyes, [as well as the] low humidity from windy weather,” she said.

And if you find yourself staring at screens for much of the day, Dr. Chantal Cousineau-Krieger of the National Eye Institute suggested it’s one of the worst things you can do to your eyes. eyes.

“When we look at these screens, we tend to blink a lot less than usual, so our eyes don’t produce as many tears, which leads to dryness. It’s always a good idea to follow the rule from 20-20-20, she said, “Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.”

This, she says, will force your eyes to blink more naturally, generating natural tear production, while reducing the strain associated with staring at screens.

Cousineau-Krieger added that eye drops that claim to reduce redness may actually cause Following redness all along the line, especially because of the preservatives they contain. And if you’re using blue-light blocking glasses hoping they’ll help with your dry eyes, she says, you might be wasting your time.

Although dry eye can be treated in most situations, according to Cousineau-Krieger, the long-term effects can potentially lead to greater susceptibility to eye infections and inflammation in severe cases. She encourages speaking with a medical professional to explore prescription options if your symptoms persist after trying over-the-counter solutions.

Keep reading to see some products recommended by our eye experts that might help temporarily replace lost tears, add much-needed moisture, and keep eyes hydrated and comfortable while you sleep.

HuffPost may receive a share of purchases made through links on this page. Each item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Preservative-free artificial tears to re-wet the eyes

Per Cousineau-Krieger’s recommendation, it’s best to stick with tear replacement drops that can mimic your natural tears without using preservatives. This 50 pack of eye drops from Refresh is individually packaged to reduce the risk of bacteria growth and can instantly hydrate and lubricate the surface of the eye.

A nighttime eye ointment to protect and soothe dry eyes while you sleep

If your eyes have ever felt so dry that it’s hard to keep them closed while you sleep, then Cousineau-Krieger said a moisturizing eye ointment might help. This long-lasting formula is preservative-free and acts as a shield over the surface of the eye to aid healing. Simply place it inside the lower eyelid before going to bed.

A pair of wrap-around sunglasses to protect the eyes in windy conditions

Hertz said you can use wrap-around goggles to protect your eyes from moisture loss, especially in outdoor windy areas. These stylish round glasses from Stoggles feature a transparent protective side barrier to reduce the impact on peripheral vision. They also come in nine colors, are prescription compatible, and have an anti-fog coating.

A hydrating eye contour gel for irritated eyes

For more intense dry eye relief during the day when regular drops just aren’t enough, this daily soothing eye gel from Refresh might do the trick. The slightly thicker drops are safe to use with contacts and help coat the surface of the eyes, relieving a number of symptoms like burning, stinging and redness.

A microwaveable compress to relieve dryness between screens

Dr. Hakop Khurdajian, a Los Angeles-based optometrist, says applying warm compresses to your eyes three or four times a day for about 5 to 10 minutes each is one of the best ways to relieve symptoms of dryness. eye without the use of drugs. . The heat helps open the eye glands and promotes more oil flow, instantly reducing that gritty feeling.

When microwaved for about 20 seconds, this washable, antibacterial eye mask can help relax tense, dry eyes with the help of heat retaining beads.

A germ-free humidifier to increase the humidity in the room

Running air conditioners in the summer or heaters in the winter can remove moisture from the air. Cousineau-Krieger said it might be helpful to place a humidifier in your bedroom or office.

The Milan produces a cool mist while providing EPA-approved air sterilization technology that destroys harmful germs and bacteria in the air, as well as in the water it atomizes. The large capacity reservoir means longer run times and three different misting modes give custom levels of air humidity.

A water bottle that helps you drink more water

Cousineau-Krieger said drinking more water is essential for eye hydration. This can be tricky if you’re a busy person or someone who forgets to drink water throughout the day.

This 21 ounce vacuum insulated water bottle is made of odor resistant and shatterproof stainless steel. HidrateSpark Pro’s most impressive feature, however, is its Bluetooth capability, which lets you track your water intake, set daily goals, or even challenge friends via an app. The LED sensor at the bottom also starts to light up when it’s time for a drink, and it contains a location tracker so you never lose your bottle.

A high quality air purifier to reduce potential eye irritants in the air

“Try using a high-quality air filter at home to reduce the effects of dry or polluted air,” Hertz said. (Learn more about how air purifiers work.)

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is a reasonably priced purifier that is suitable for spaces up to 540 square feet. It uses an activated carbon filter to effectively capture particles, especially dust, smoke and allergens that can cause eye irritation. It also contains a second machine-washable filter specifically to capture larger particles in the air and has an indicator that lets you know when it’s time to change the filter.

An omega-rich supplement that should only be taken if approved by your doctor

“Ask your eye doctor if you should take omega-3 fatty acid supplements,” Hertz says. “Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found naturally in foods like fish and flaxseeds, and may help reduce dry eye symptoms.”

While supplements aren’t an option for everyone, these fish oil softgels are made from strict, carefully selected ingredients that have been purified to remove potential traces of mercury or other contaminants.