A grid of squares floats around closed eyes, showing steps of an eye care routine.

Eye Care is Self Care

As a doctor of optometry, it is pretty automatic for me to recommend and educate patients on the triad that has become the foundation of most dry eye care: heat, cleanse, hydrate. While my recommendations may come easily in the exam room, adopting this routine in my own day-to-day has not always been easy or automatic.

To tolerate or to treat, that is the question. . .

Creating a routine

Common with any chronic condition, dry eye included, I have good days and bad days. Admittedly, my eyes could be on fire, vision blurred, and crying a river, and sometimes I still opt to tolerate rather than treat my symptoms.

Being consistent and creating a routine around my natural daily habits, rather than the hands of a clock, has been life-changing.

Heat

10 minutes. . .as a doctor, wife, and mom of two little ones, 10 minutes can be the longest time or the shortest time in the world, depending on the activity and sometimes the hardest moment to find among the other 1,440 minutes in a day.

So I purchased a dry eye mask; in fact, I purchased two so I could keep one at home and at the office. It has its own little drawstring carrying bag and is able to deliver an even amount of heat for an extended period of time to help warm up my eyelids.

I challenge myself whether I am at home or in the office to find and take 10 minutes at least once out of my day to have some quiet time for myself as well as address my dry eye.

Cleanse

My personal preference is a box of individually-wrapped lid wipes to clean my eyelids and eyelashes. I am reminded morning or night to cleanse my lids and lashes at least twice a day, because I keep a box in the bathroom near my toothbrush and face wash. I can also put a few in my bag to take on the go if symptoms arise throughout the day, since they are wrapped individually.

Hydrate

Two times, four times, or even eight times a day, hydrating my eyes is just as vital of a task as ensuring I consume enough water daily. Just like water consumption, I feel better when I am lubricating my eyes continuously throughout the day versus only instilling drops once or at particular times in the day.

I know if I wait for symptoms to occur, then I waited too long to lubricate. My goal is to be proactive, but finding the perfect cadence and balance changes daily. To keep my symptoms under control, I use my daily activities as a reminder on when to instill my artificial tears.

On days when my eyes need extra attention, I may instill my drops after seeing each patient throughout the day. On days when I want to maintain my comfort, I may use them when I wake up, when I get to work, at lunch, before I leave work, and then again before I go to bed.

New way of life

I love myself so much more when I prioritize my eye care with my other self-care rituals. In order to implement a new routine and incorporate it as a lifestyle takes repetition and consistency.

Purchasing multiple sets of products I can use at home, in the office, and on the go has helped me improve my quality of sight and life.

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