Q: My kids are either always active playing their little league sports, or doing their homework on the computer. Should I be concerned about them having dry eyes?
A: If the dry eye problem is primarily due to the environment, it can usually be resolved through use of sunglasses when children are outdoors. The use of sun wear helps reduce their eye’s exposure to dust, sun, and wind. It may be a good idea to try using the type of sun protection what utilizes foam on either side to create a seal and they are close-fitting. These frames offer a wrap-around style preventing dust and wind from going behind the lenses and causing irritation to the eyes.
As far as computer use is concerned, consider adjusting the display settings so the brightness is lowered to the same level as the surrounding work area, adjust the text size to a comfortable range, and make adjustments to the color so it is pleasing to the eye. Try to avoid working with overhead lighting, and make sure your children are taking frequent breaks. Their eyes will experience strain if there is a lot of glare on the screen, as well as surrounding surfaces, so do your best to minimize this in their work area.
Q: Do they need drops?
A: Try consulting with your eye care practitioner to see if a prescription for artificial tears is necessary. Artificial tears are eye drops that provide lubrication for eyes experiencing scratchy or dry feelings. In addition to helping with environmental issues, artificial tears also help those who suffer from dry eye due to prolonged computer use.
Artificial tears can be bought over the counter, but they do not have the same lasting effects as a prescription form would, and they may not be as effective. It is true that many brands work well with contact lenses but, used along, it is best to consult with your eye care practitioner before wasting your money.
If your child is not complaining of dry eye now, discuss your concerns with your eye care practitioner and ask if you should have a prescription on hand if symptoms arise. They may suggest alternatives, such as supplements or additional water consumption. They may also have a good suggestion for an over-the-counter brand that would work well, too.
Q: Should I make any dietary changes?
A: It isn’t uncommon for doctors to make recommendations with regards to nutrition and hydration for people experiencing dry eye symptoms. Studies indicate that dry eye symptoms are decreased through the consumption of supplements or foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. You can find good sources of this in sardines, cod, salmon, and herring, as well as other cold water fish. In addition, some doctors also recommend that dry eye symptoms be reduced by adding flax seed oil to one’s diet.
It is also recommended that better hydration routines be implemented. When individuals are mildly dehydrated, their dry eye symptoms increase. This particularly true during dry, windy, and hot weather. By simply drinking water, dry eye symptoms could be eliminated completely. Even if your child is not complaining of dry eye or irritation, drinking plenty of water now will prevent symptoms from cropping up later on.