Santa Claus came to town this past weekend and temps dropped about 25 degrees since then. There is finally snow . . . and ice. It is beautiful. I love to walk main street in Montrose and look at all the lights . . . also, my neighborhood is really bright and cheery.
With the snow and cold air, comes a flair-up of my dry eye. The gritty sensation is annoying, at best. I have also had a cold virus . . . maybe that is part of the flair. It reminds me instantly that I have Graves' disease . . . so many people with autoimmune thyroid conditions also have dry eye. These conditions can change the chemical composition of our tears, making them less effective for lubrication.
What can be done? In Colorado, where air is so dry, using a humidifier can help. I usually sit mine near the couch, so I have some humidity while I work on the computer. I also like the eye drops . . . the ones I like best were samples from my ophthalmologist. This time of year, I carry them in my purse.
With my cold virus, I have used over the counter meds (like antihistamines) that can dry out secretions - so keeping up with fluids is really important, too.
Fish oils may be useful in keeping our tears working as they should to lubricate. I take a supplement of the omega 3's for my eyes and my blood lipids - and I do think they help some.
I also elected to have punctal plugs placed a couple years ago, when my levels thyroid levels were still stabilizing. While not everyone thinks they help, I felt an immediate difference. The plugs simply keep the tears from draining so quickly from our eyes. It is a fairly quick/painless procedure done in the doctor's office - and some insurances may cover the cost of insertion.
As a wellness coach, I know when my eyes hurt, I enjoy life less. It is harder to focus on work or almost anything that uses our eyes. I also know that, for me, dry eye flairs often mean my thyroid levels may be off a little, so it is a signal to me to go check my TSH. Everyone with thyroid disease knows it takes time to know when we are out of balance . . . and the eyes may provide some clues.
Staying happy and well when we have thyroid issues can be a challenge, but simple lifestyle changes can and do make a difference. Taking care of our eyes can be part of the difference.
What remedies do you use for dry eye?
Cathy Hartt, RN, MS, CNM
Midwife of Changes Wellbeing Coaching Services