Dry eyes can be a frustrating experience for anyone – regardless of how much time you’re spending in front of a screen. If you’re experiencing burning, light sensitivity, or even itchiness, you’re probably looking for solutions for dry eyes. Especially if the remedy can quickly restore moisture in your eyes. When we think of moisture, naturally, we think of water and hydration, which leads us to ask:
- Does Drinking Water Actually Relieve Dry Eye Disease (DED)?
- What Causes Dry Eyes?
- How Do I Hydrate My Eyes?
Read on to find the answers to these and more.
Does Drinking Water Actually Relieve Dry Eye Disease or DED?
In most cases, drinking enough water is going to be beneficial for your body. After all, the human body is mostly water, which means that dehydration can impact many essential functions. Being well hydrated typically means your body will run like a well-oiled machine; however it is not a simple cure for Dry Eye Disease. In cases of dehydration, drinking water can help your dry eyes after entering your system, which can take some time. For persistent dry eyes, itchiness and irritation aren’t actually caused by a lack of hydration, but by some very specific factors.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
For many people, symptoms of dry eyes can indicate a chronic medical condition called Dry Eye Disease (DED). There are two kinds of dry eye disease: Aqueous Tear-Deficient Dry Eye or Evaporative Dry Eye (also called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD). Aqueous Tear-Deficient dry eye is caused by a lack of tear production. Many people are surprised to find out that only about 10% to 15% of all dry eye cases are related to low tear production. They’re even more surprised to learn that over 85% of all dry eye cases are actually caused by a problem with the dozens of Meibomian glands that line our eyelids. Everytime we blink, these tiny glands excrete and spread a thin layer of protective oil over our tear film to prevent evaporation. When Meibomian glands become clogged, irritated or inflamed over time the flow of oil can be reduced which allows our natural tear fluids to evaporate too quickly. Doctors refer to this problem as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD and have special treatments to address the issue.
For both types of DED, drinking more water isn’t going to directly relieve symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. While drinking water will keep your body hydrated, the issue in treating Dry Eye Disease isn’t simply a lack of hydration. As we’ve learned, over 85% of dry eye disease cases are actually caused by clogged glands, and NOT from a lack of moisture in the tear fluid.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is a disease caused by blocked glands, or worse yet, glands that have shriveled up and become useless due to lack of care. These glands create an oil (meibum) essential to the tear film make-up. When meibum isn’t present in tears, eyes dry out faster, causing discomfort. The solution isn’t to hydrate from within but to clear the glands from obstruction and stimulate standard production of tears.
How do I Hydrate my Dry Eyes?
For proper eye hydration, moisture should be delivered directly, in combination with appropriate heat. This two-pronged approach first unclogs the pores that create this essential oil, then cleans the eyelids to relieve pain while assisting in tear production.
Introducing moisture to a dry or arid environment can help relieve pain from a lack of tears, but ultimately, it is heat that will serve three essential functions:
- Melt the congealed meibum where it has gathered in the glands and openings
- Support the act of clearing debris with proper eye cleaning solutions
- Open the pores and allow moisturizing agents, like hyaluronic acid, to permeate and lock in soothing moisture
Old Solutions for Dry Eyes
While many temporary relief products exist on the market, many of them provide insufficient remedies to actually resolve recurring eye pain and discomfort.
Many who suffer from itchy, dry, or irritated eyes turn to eye drops, or “artificial tears”, as a fast fix..
The large eye care corporations sell billions of dollars worth of over-the-counter “Artificial Tears”, to provide chemical lubrication to the eyes for temporary relief of the stinging, irritability, or other symptoms of dry eyes. Those “artificial tears” only provide temporary relief and are a distant second-best to your body’s own hydrating system; natural tears are protected by the oils or meibum. These drops are designed to mimic our natural tears but do not activate actual tear production nor address underlying causes of dry eye like MGD, so once they evaporate, symptoms can return.
Over-the-counter ointments and gels are generally designed to provide temporary relief like artificial tears, but without the convenience of a dropper and in a viscosity that’s harder for the eyes to tolerate. Some people prefer these to artificial tears for specific applications like overnight sleep where the gels can last longer.
Warm Compresses and Heated Masks
A warm, moist compress has been doctors’ most recommended treatment for Dry Eye Disease – and for good reason. A mixture of heat and moisture alleviates the dry eye symptoms while also addressing the underlying MGD to melt solidified meibum and lock in moisture. Warmth helps unclog the glands, and produce real tears, while the moisture provides relief.
The issue with a warm compress or most heated masks is the lack of convenience and ease of use. Sure, it can be convenient in the comfort of your own home, but when on-the-go in public, carrying a cloth and locating sterile water heated to and maintained at the precise temperature needed is inconvenient if not nearly impossible. On top of that, heating a compress typically requires access to a microwave, making on-the-go relief a challenge, and leaves room for error when trying to reach the right temperature.
Modern, Medically-Backed Solutions for Dry Eyes
For a real solution, the team at ThermaMEDx has created EverTears®. Addressing the actual cause of Evaporative Dry Eye Disease, EverTears® unclogs Meibomian glands in the eyelids while simultaneously providing effortless relief.
Additionally, EverTears® is the first FDA-registered over-the-counter treatment combining self-heating eye compress technology and a sterile pre-moistened cleaning pad to clean and unclog eyelid glands while improving eyelid hygiene by locking in hydration after the debris is cleared. This single-use compress is convenient for travel and provides relief while melting hardened and dried meibum that can travel, free of blockages, to the eyes and form natural protective tears.
True Dry Eye Relief
While drinking water is good for the body, it’s not one of the best solutions for dry eyes. Hydrating consistently irritable, watery or painfully dry eyes should come through direct application. So definitely have that tall glass of water for overall hydration, but for true dry eye relief, look to a clinically proven solution that facilitates natural defenses while also providing on-the-spot relief that lasts.
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