Managing Dry Eye Flares
One thing that I am reminded of everyday is how complex dry eye disease really is. I feel that it is especially complex when it comes to dry eye flares and how to manage them.
With a lot of conditions there are periods of time when your symptoms and pain are exacerbated; this is normally called a "flare up." I have realized just how common these are with our eyes, and here are a few things that I do when I am experiencing a flare-up.
Artificial tears and a cold compress
The first thing I usually recognize when a flare is coming is that my normal daily treatments and regimen just are not cutting it. After I instill my Xiidra drop, allergy drop and top it off with my warm compress, my eyes are still angry. Also, I notice a lot more redness than I normally do, and it's harder to get rid of it. I think we can all agree that our eyes on a daily basis feel dry, but when it's exacerbated it feels even more dry, if that's even possible.
Secondly, I find myself putting in more artificial tears during the day. I usually instill 4-5 artificial tear drops a day, but when I am having a harder time it can be upwards of 10-15 times a day. It will also feel like no matter how many drops I put in, there is no relief. I will usually use a cold compress instead of a warm compress when it's at this point because I will have a lot of burning, and the cold helps with the pain. I will do these cold compresses at least two times a day.
Diet and water intake changes
There are a few other things my dry eye specialist recommends to me when I am noticeably in a dry eye flare. I increase my water a lot. I try to aim for a gallon a day. Sometimes a short burst of steroid drops are needed to try and get ahead of the inflammation. This is usually the route I have to go and it does help; it just takes a while.
Another helpful tip is to watch what I am eating and making sure I am eating more non-inflammatory foods and fueling my body with nutrients that will help.
Focusing on my mental health
Lastly, but I find the most important, is to work on my mental health, especially during this time. I tend to feel very anxious, and my depression is usually a lot worse. It can feel defeating and frustrating when you feel like you're doing everything you can, but a flare comes along.
It is normal and even though it is more painful, I have found meditation and exercise greatly helps me get through these bouts. Reach out to your support people. Even just posting your story on our chronic dry eye site can help get these feelings out. You are not alone.
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