If you have occasional bouts of dry or irritated eyes, or if you have dry eye syndrome but symptoms are not severe, lifestyle changes alone may help to alleviate discomfort. If dry eye syndrome is more severe—and has caused damage to the protective layer of epithelial cells that covers the cornea—NYU Langone doctors may suggest that you make certain lifestyle changes in combination with another type of treatment, such as medication or a minor procedure.
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Lifestyle changes can be as simple as remembering to take regular breaks from activities—watching TV, using a computer or another digital device, reading for long periods—that lead you to blink less frequently. It’s important to allow your eyes time to rest and lubricate, because infrequent blinking can cause the tear film that covers the surface of the eye to evaporate quickly.
Dry eyes are a common complaint among people who wear contact lenses, because contacts cause the eye’s moisture to evaporate quickly. New types of contact lenses can help the eye to retain moisture and prevent dryness. Regardless of the type of contacts you wear, changing them as recommended—whether daily, weekly, or monthly—can help to relieve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Your doctor may advise adding more omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as salmon and walnuts, to your diet, due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3s can also be taken in supplement form, and your doctor can recommend the right dosage.
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