An alarm clock with two eyes as the bells at the top, one of them is red and dry.

Getting Into the Dry Eye Routine

Last updated: February 2023

If you’re just learning about chronic dry eye, it might seem a bit overwhelming. There’s so much information out there about what to do to make your eyes better, and sometimes even the doctors disagree. After 6 months of visits to several dry eye specialists and lots of trial and error, I feel like I’ve discovered what works for me. Here’s a peek into a typical day for me managing my chronic dry eye.

In the morning with dry eye

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is wash my face. I’m careful even opening my eyes at this point because sometimes they’re completely dried out and my eyelids are stuck together. But if I wash with some warm water and a gentle cleanser recommended by my eye doctor, I can then open my eyes comfortably. Then I use an Ocusoft lid scrub on my eyelid margins and rinse again.

After that it’s time to put in Xiidra drops while I do some gentle yoga stretches. I’ve found that I can’t tolerate Xiidra in my eyes for more than 10 minutes so I usually rinse out with my preservative-free eye drops.

If I have time, I also do 10 minutes with the warm compress while doing some more stretching. Because of the surgeries I’ve had for an unrelated condition my body really needs morning stretches, and I’ve learned to combine my dry eye routine with this time.

Before I leave the house for the day, I also need to use my Tyrvaya spray, once in each nostril. If it gets down my throat—and sometimes it will even if I’ve sprayed it right—I gargle a little water before I go. At this point, my eyes are feeling much more ready for the day.

At work with dry eye

The office where I work tends to be extremely dry, so I recently added a humidifier. When I get in, I have to refill it with water each day. It helps a little, but my office is still much drier than my home. Because of this, I always keep a bottle of preservative-free eye drops in my work bag.

As the day wears on my eyes usually start burning. If you have a desk job like I do, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen. The burning is a good reminder I need to do blink exercises because I’m probably not blinking enough while I concentrate on work. I also find that gently massaging the sides of my eyes with the palms of my hands helps moisten my eyes and make them feel a little better.

In the evening with dry eye

When I get done with work I still have a lot of things to do, and this is the time of day I’m most likely to neglect my eyes. The one adaptation I’ve made is while my dinner is cooking, I make time to do a warm compress and stretch for 10 minutes. I also do a gentle expression of my eyelids, rolling my index finger down to express the oil glands while they’re warm.

As the evening winds down, I put in my Xiidra drops again while doing a little stretching, and follow that with Tyrvaya. Both are supposed to be done twice daily.

Bedtime with dry eye

At bedtime, I’ve started using a combo of Hylo Night and Genteal gel, because my eyes really dry out overnight while I’m sleeping. I also put 2 layers of sleep masks over my eyes to help keep my eyelids shut.

Phew, does that seem like a lot? Maybe it is, but it has really just become a routine for me that I don’t think that much about. Sure, there are times I wish I didn’t have to do all this, but sticking with it makes a big difference.

What about you? What’s your dry eye routine like?

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