No one enjoys having dry eyes, but they’re incredibly common both in people who wear eyeglasses and people who don’t. When your eyes become dehydrated, a whole host of unpleasant symptoms ensue, including itching, redness, blurry vision, discomfort, and increased eye strain.
And it’s not just people diagnosed with chronic dry eye who need to worry about dehydrated eyes. Even eyes with normal tear production can become dry when your body isn’t getting enough fluids.
Eyes and dehydration
Your eyes are not necessarily your body’s number one priority. If you become dehydrated, your eyes are one of the first places you’ll notice it as your body will afford less water to your eyes, conserving it for use elsewhere. In severe cases of dehydration, blood pressure drops and less oxygen makes it to the eyes. Vision will decline, often being consumed by grey splotches.
Many people with dry eyes are actually chronically dehydrated, although they may not realize it.
Lubricating eye drops can give you immediate relief from some dry eye symptoms and many people use eye drops every day. Eye drops will lubricate the surface of the eye and help wash away any irritating debris.
If you choose to give your eyes a little daily help with eye drops, make sure you are using the right kind. General eye drops that advertise themselves as replacement tears are the right way to go. Avoid any kind of medicated eye drops as these are not meant to be used daily and can cause problems.
If you find yourself using eye drops all the time, talk to your eye doctor because you may have chronic dry eye or even dehydration.
Tips for preventing dehydration
Drinking more water is the obvious solution to prevent dehydration, but you should be aware of several other factors, as well:
- Hot weather
Pay attention to the temperature outside as hotter temperatures cause you to dehydrate faster. Not staying hydrated in the heat can lead to heatstroke, which can be serious. Keep cool water with you if you’re going outside during the heat, especially if you’ll be exerting yourself. And remember to drink water consistently, rather than all at once.
(And don’t forget your UV-resistant sunglasses on those sunny days!)
When you exercise, you lose a lot of water through sweat. It is important to drink water before, during and after exercise. You may also want to use a special sports drink when you finish a workout, depending on how intense your exercise was. Be careful not to drink too much, though, or you may get cramps or feel nauseated.
- Dehydrating liquids
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they are hydrated just because they have been drinking. But drinks full of caffeine or alcohol can actually do the opposite. So yes, you may still be dehydrated even after drinking that soda or coffee.
Try to swap out unhealthy drinks for water. And try to drink a moderate amount of water throughout the day. Do not try to drink your daily intake of water all at once. Doing so could make you feel sick, and ultimately your body will not be able to use all the water you drank.
- Salty foods
Salt and water are opposites when it comes to your diet. Your salt intake has a huge effect on your overall hydration. Lowering the level of salt in your diet will help your body stay hydrated (it also helps with bloating and water retention!). Consider replacing salty foods with water-rich foods instead, like fruits and vegetables.
Other causes of dry eyes
Even if you’re drinking plenty of water, you may still have dry eyes. This happens when your eyes aren’t producing enough tears. This may be due to chronic dry eye, an eye injury or even a procedure like LASIK. Over-the-counter eye drops are usually enough to combat these cases of dry eye. If eye drops aren’t enough, talk to your eye doctor.
Dry eyes and contact lenses
Contact lenses may make your dry eyes even worse. But if you find your contacts are bothering your eyes, you may not have to give them up. There are many different brands of contact lenses. Try switching to a special moistening brand of contact lens. Shopping online at 39DollarGlasses.com gives you access to dozens of contact lens options from multiple brands. Take some time to discover which lenses are right for you. You can also buy special rewetting drops to use on contact lenses during the day.
You may also want to consider giving your eyes a break by wearing traditional prescription glasses, instead. Try shortening the length of time you wear contacts each day or take a whole day off every week or so.
Ultimately dry eye is very manageable. Eat right and stock up on a few bottles of eye drops and you will soon notice the difference. Your vision will be sharper, your eyes will feel better, and you’ll be all-around healthier.