Redness of the eye occurs when the exterior blood vessels in the eye become dilated due to overexposure to sun, wind, dust, allergies, irritants or infections. Dryness is the result of the eyes being inadequately lubricated by tears. Dryness can cause red eyes. These conditions of the eyes usually are chronic, long term, mild to moderate irritations that after 5-10-20 years, leave your eyes in poor health and poor appearance. Dr. Baron recommends that you take this situation seriously NOW and do all you can daily to minimize the effects of this with time. Other factors causing either, or both, of these conditions are:
1. LOW TEAR VOLUME: Tears are the eyes’ natural lubricant, keeping them moist and clear. A low tear volume and quality may cause eyes to become dry and uncomfortable. Tears are composed of a layer of mucin (which holds the tears to the eye), water (composing the major part of the tears), and oil (the top layer, which keeps the tears from evaporating). If this composition is out of proportion, your eyes may feel discomfort. Maintaining your health, through diet and vitamins, can help maintain these tear layers. The volume of tears can be improved through normal consumption of water. A common symptom of dry eyes is occasional excessive tearing! This is an attempt by your eyes to compensate for the dryness. We recommend drinking two glasses of water, before each meal or more (10 (8oz glasses)/day, to help increase the volume of your tears; and also decreasing your salt consumption. People who tend to drink coffee, tea, diet sodas, or beer–which are diuretics–tend to pass more fluid than they drink. Normally one should drink 32+ ounces of water per day, if you exercise, you must increase your consumption accordingly.
2. VITAMIN A: It is best that you take a Multi Vitamin as your base supplement, then add what you need from that point, as all the vitamins are inter-related in their functions and utilizations. Vitamin A is a very important vitamin for the eyes; however, it can become toxic at high dosages. We suggest that you try up to 10,000 units per day, for 4‑6 weeks, and then we will evaluate how you are doing. For dosages above 10,000 I.U., a physician should be consulted first. Beta Carotene is the precursor to Vitamin A and can be taken in capsule form or is found in vegetables and fruits; your body converts it to Vitamin A as needed. Recommended daily intakes of Beta Carotene are 5 to 10 mg. It would be wise to take Vitamin A or Beta Carotene in combination with a multi-vitamin/mineral so your body will utilize all the factors for the best and ideal effect. . . and remember all those bright yellow & orange fruits and green leafy vegetables!
3. ARTIFICIAL TEARS: Artificial tears are used to supplement the tears and to help moisten the eyes; however, they do not take the redness out of the eyes. Reasons for using artificial tears are dryness of the eyes due to environment, a closed room with forced‑air ventilation, medication, hormonal changes, allergies, and pinguecula. Three suggestions for this type of product are ReFresh Plus, Viva Drops, or Celluvisc. Use only as needed. Those products that claim to “take the red out” are not recommended, because of a reaction they induce called the “rebound effect.” The drug used is a vasoconstrictor, which decreases the size of the blood vessels temporarily. However, when the drug wears off, the blood vessels will dilate to a greater size than they were originally, leading to constant use of “whitening” drops. However, if used rarely, these products will not harm your eyes. Systane is a great product for long term rewetting of the eyes.
4. LID MASSAGE: Some people have stagnation of the glands underneath the eyelids. When this occurs, the tear quality changes by becoming too full of mucus, causing the eyes to dry out faster. One remedy that has been found to be successful is lid massage. This can be done while washing your face, by placing a hot washcloth on your eyes and massaging the upper lid against the upper bone and the lower lid against the lower bone, around your eye. This need not take more than five or ten seconds daily and, with time, the massage and the heat will open the glands, bringing the tear quality and quantity back to its normal level. View Video!
5. BLINKING: Blinking is the windshield wiper of your eye and one of its purposes is to evenly and regularly spread tears over your eyes to keep them wet, seeing clearly, and healthy. Computer operators have been found to blink only 3 times per minute rather than the normal 15 times per minute. Contact lens wearers also can adopt an abnormal blink rate and pattern. Please be aware of this and enhance your blink pattern, rate, and ask for our fact sheet on blinking if needed.
6. MEDICATIONS: Various medications can dry mucous membranes, including those in the eyes, causing red and dry eyes. Please inform us of any medications that you are now taking, any you have recently stopped taking or any that you have changed (i.e. antihistamines and diuretics).
7. SMOKING: Whether you or those around you indulge in smoking, it is important that you minimize (if not eliminate) your exposure. Smoking is a definite an irritant to the eyes.
8. EXPOSURE TO THE ELEMENTS: Exposure to the sun and wind is very hard on the eyes. The use of high quality, properly tinted sunglasses eliminates the harmful ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths caused by overexposure. This is especially true for those of us who work and play outdoors at these high altitudes in Colorado. Overexposure is believed to accelerate the development of cataracts and break down of the retina. More…
9. HEAT/AIR CONDITIONING: Office and other indoor environments have controlled air vents for heat and air conditioning, which rapidly dry the eyes. If possible, face away from the duct or vent to eliminate that direct exposure. Use a personal humidifier if necessary.
10. FLUORESCENT LIGHTING: Most offices and business use fluorescent lights. Many people find this type of lighting bothersome and irritating to the eyes. We recommend a pink tint in your glasses, or tinted contact lenses, to reduce the glare and balance the wavelengths.
11. FULL SPECTRUM LIGHT: There is a theory emerging that espouses the need of a full spectrum of light every day. Regular fluorescent lights are not full‑spectrum; there is a light called Vitalite that meets this criterion. The use of this type of light may be beneficial for people with red eyes. View Full Spectrum Solutions
12. CONTACT LENS WEAR: If you are a firm contact lens wearer, you may need to have old or scratched contact lenses polished or replaced, because they will not wet properly, causing eye discomfort. If you are a soft contact lens wearer, using some of the older solutions, or heat, it might be wise to consider updating to the newer solutions. The best soft lens solutions are Clear Care and “aerosol saline”, both of which eliminate the potential of allergic reactions to preservatives, which can cause red eyes.
13. CURRENT PRESCRIPTION: Make sure you have an up-to-date prescription in glasses, so you are not straining your eyes while wearing them.
14. VISION THERAPY: If your eyes have poor visual skills, are working inefficiently as a team, have focusing problems, or are strained by doing extensive visual tasks, it may be wise to increase these abilities through vision therapy. Efficient functioning of the eyes should facilitate the decrease of red eyes caused from eye strain.
15. OCULAR OINTMENT: If tears and supplemental tears are not enough to relieve dry eye problems, a sterile ophthalmic ointment can be used. Unless otherwise instructed, use at bedtime, for your vision will be very blurry. Wash your hands, then put a small amount on your index finger, place the ointment on the lower inside lid of both eyes. In the morning, use a warm washcloth to clean your lids and lashes. Refresh PM
16. NEW DIAGNOSTIC TEST: In the event that your eyes are still dry after all the alternatives are pursued as prescribed, a new diagnostic test is available. The drainage system in one eye is temporarily plugged with a collagen plug which slowly dissolves so that we can determine if the flow of the tear gland is sufficient with the drainage system closed. The test usually runs over a two‑week period. If this closing of the drainage system proves helpful, semi‑permanent closure can be accomplished through surgery. We use the collagen plugs to test whether such closure is of slight value, of no value, or significant value, or imperative.