If your eyes are burning, stinging, and itchy, then you may be one of the roughly 16 million Americans who suffer from dry eyes, according to the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Other symptoms include a sensitivity to light, redness, blurred vision, and a feeling of having something in your eye, per the Mayo Clinic. It happens (kind of obviously) when your eyes don’t produce enough tears. But less clear-cut is why your tear ducts aren’t doing their job.
Surprisingly, some super-common medications can trigger the problem, reports Healthline. These include allergy medications, antidepressants, and diuretics, all of which reduce your body’s mucus production. If you use multiple drugs, the risk to your eyes is multiplied, according to Stephanie Crist, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy (via Health).
Another common culprit behind your dry eyes may be your screen time, and that includes staring at your cell phone. The problem even earned a name: computer vision syndrome. “People tend to stare at their screens and blink less. Their eyes get dry because they’re open more of the time … there’s not as much blinking to refresh the surface of the eye,” explains ophthalmologist Matthew Gardiner to the Harvard Health Letter.
How to protect your peepers
Luckily, there are some simple tricks for easing dry eyes. Try using artificial tears and also gently massaging your eyes to stimulate the oil glands on your lids, suggests Gardiner. You can also apply warm compresses when you experience pain, and wash your eyelids using baby shampoo to help release the oil in the tear glands (via Medical News Today).
And Japanese researchers may have found the best solution: A big cup of fully-caffeinated Joe. A study in the American Academy of Ophthalmology found caffeine can increase the eye’s ability to produce tears. Rejoice coffee lovers! Certain medications may help, too, so talk to your doctor if you want to know your options.
Of course, you can also always listen to your mom and eat your carrots — or drink your carrot juice. The veggie is rich in beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, a nutrient proven to protect your eye health, per Duke Health. Other dietary changes such as eating more salmon, rich with omega-3 fatty acids, and drinking plenty of water per day are also beneficial if you suffer from dry eye. P.S., you can also try to cut down on screen time.
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