One of the most common and most frustrating eye problems isn’t necessarily related to vision loss or trauma, but dryness. In fact, dry eye syndrome affects millions of Americans each year, which can cause an irritated, burning sensation and can actually reduce a patient’s clarity of vision.

The eye has several sources of moisture. The lacrimal gland, for example, produces tears, and each time you blink, a layer of tears spreads across your eye. This layer of moisture is essential for your eyes: It lubricates the eye, reduces your risk of eye infection, keeps the eye free of foreign objects, and helps to ensure clear vision. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or if they produce low-quality tears, however, then you develop dry eye syndrome, which can lead to a scratchy or burning sensation in the eyes, excess watering, blurred vision, and other symptoms.

There are a number of factors that can affect tear production and dry eyes. For example, aging slows tear production, as do certain medications, use of contact lenses, staring at electronics for too long without blinking, and more. However, there are simple things that you can do to reduce your risk or to treat dry eyes!

Drink More Water

In order for your eyes to produce tears, your body needs to be hydrated. Make sure that you drink several glasses of water every day so that your body has enough moisture to produce tears and keep your eyes from drying out!

Take Frequent Breaks from Screen Time

Spending time on computers and using mobile devices is a fact of daily life, but spending too much time staring at screens can strain your eyes and cause them to dry out. When you use electronics for prolonged periods of time, try to blink more frequently as a way of re-lubricating your eyes and take periodic breaks from your devices.

Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are available over the counter, so they’re easily accessible. Be careful not to overuse them, however, but if taken properly, artificial tears can be a great way to help you fight dryness!

Be Careful for Air Movement

Strong winds, fans, or even devices like hair dries that move air around can cause your eyes to become dried out. Reduce your exposure to these factors as much as possible and consider wearing wraparound sunglasses on windy days to protect your eyes.