How Hydration and Water Intake Impact Dry Eye

Sep 20, 2023

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How Hydration and Water Intake Impact Dry Eye

How Hydration and Water Intake Impact Dry Eye

Anyone who's found themselves in the middle of a heated debate, an epic movie, or anything remotely fun or important, only to be interrupted by a ferocious, Sahara-desert-esque eye situation knows how horrid it can be. 

Let's set the stage; our body is like a waterpark - without the long lines and overpriced snacks. An impressive 60% of us is comprised of good old H2O; so when your metaphorical water slide starts drying up, things can get a tad...scratchy. Especially for those peepers of yours.

Dry eye, medically known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (or parched peepers), is a condition characterized by inadequate moisture and lubrication in the eyes. Common symptoms include itching, redness, blurred vision, and often a bothersome sensation of having something (seemingly expertly elusive) stuck in the eye. While various factors can lead to dry eye, such as aging, certain medications, and underlying medical conditions, one simple factor often overlooked is hydration and water intake. So, let's dive deep into understanding the profound connection between hydration, water intake, and the health of our eyes.

The Composition of Tears

To truly appreciate the importance and benefits of hydration, it's vital first to understand the composition and function of our tears (no sad songs required). Our tears are made up of three layers:

  • Oil Layer: Prevents tear evaporation
  • Water Layer: Cleanses the eye and washes away pesky foreign particles
  • Mucus Layer: Spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye

The water layer, which primarily consists of - you guessed it - water, is crucial in keeping the eyes moist; when the body is dehydrated, it can produce fewer tears, affecting the quantity and quality of the water layer.

Hydration and Its Direct Impact On Our Peepers

Tear Production

Adequate hydration supports the body's ability to produce tears, which keep the eye's surface moist, whether we ‘turn on the waterworks’ or not; inadequate water intake, therefore, can lead to decreased tear production, further intensifying dry eye symptoms.

Balanced Salt Concentration

Proper hydration also ensures that the salt concentration within our tears remains balanced; when dehydrated, tears can become overly salty, causing increased irritation and discomfort.

Systemic Effects of Dehydration on Eye Health

When the human body is dehydrated, it responds by going to work on conserving water for vital organs; potentially deprioritizing the eyes. This can result in:

  • Decreased Blood Flow to the Eye: Reduced hydration can decrease blood flow to the eye, depriving it of essential nutrients and oxygen
  • Impaired Detoxification: Proper hydration aids in flushing out toxins; when dehydrated, the body's ability to detoxify and remove waste products from the eye might be compromised

Staying Hydrated: Practical Tips

  • Aim for 8x8: As a general guideline, most experts recommend that we try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. That said, individual needs can vary based on weight, activity level, and environmental conditions
  • Eat Water-Rich Foods: Hydration isn't just about drinking water; consuming foods with high water content, like cucumbers, oranges, and strawberries, can also contribute to your daily water intake
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both can act as diuretics, leading to increased water loss. If you do choose to consume these, be sure to balance them out with plenty of water
  • Set Reminders: If you're prone to forgetting, set regular alarms or reminders to drink water throughout the day
  • Check Your Urine: A quick hydration check can be done by looking at the color of your urine; if it's light and clear, you're likely well-hydrated, while a dark yellow or amber hue signals a need to drink more water

Benefits of Drinking Up

  • Balanced Tear Composition: Proper hydration helps maintain a balanced tear film on the eye surface; ensuring your eyes are adequately lubricated (unless you’re auditioning for a desert drama, this is typically the preferred default!)
  • Detox Delight: Water aids in flushing out toxins and unwanted guests; by guests, we’re talking the irritating substances that can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Whatever it is has a far greater chance of being diligently removed when hydration is optimal
  • Blood Vessel Boost: Adequate water intake also ensures blood vessels in the eyes are well-fed; and a happy blood vessel means a merry cornea (good eye health all round!)

Quality over Quantity: It's Not Just About Guzzling Gallons

Chugging a bucket-load of water isn’t the goal here; as with everything, balance is key. Remember that while adequate hydration can alleviate dry eyes, overhydration is a proper party pooper; too much of a good thing (i.e., H2O) can cause issues like water intoxication - it may not cause excessive tearing, but it’s no good for our system in general.

Hydration Helpers

Beyond the traditional hydration method of simply drinking plenty of clean plain drinking water, we can also effectively hydrate with fruits and veggies; think juicy watermelon wedges and cucumber slices – nature’s water-rich parcels of goodness. Enjoying herbal teas and such throughout the day is another way to get your hydration up without it feeling like a chore.

Keep Your Eyes on the Hydration Prize

Hydration plays an essential role in maintaining eye health and preventing the discomfort of dry eyes. By ensuring proper water intake, you can not only alleviate symptoms, but also optimize the overall health of your eyes; like every part of our body, our eyes reflect our internal health. So, the next time you feel the itch or burn of dry eyes, grab a glass of water (to drink, not splash yourself with) - your eyes will thank you!

Drinking water is like revitalizing your eyes by taking them out for a refreshing spa day. Hydration isn't just for skin-deep beauty; it plays an oscar-worthy role in keeping those windows to your soul clear, comfortable, and captivating. So, the next time you're debating whether to refill that water bottle, just think of your (preferably) glistening gaze; cheers to a thirst-quenched vision!

Photo by Bindle Bottle on Unsplash