What to Know When You Suffer From Dry Eye and Fatigue
If you have chronic problems with both fatigue and dry eye, they may or may not be directly related. Lack of sleep, including lack of deep sleep, can cause temporary dry eye symptoms such as red, irritated eyes. But such common symptoms both also factor into at least 80 known diseases as well. WebMD has a Symptom Checker where you can check different health issues such as diabetes, mononucleosis, sleep apnea, and multiple sclerosis. (You can find it at Symptom Checker-- make sure to take this info with a grain of salt, though. It’s always best to check with your doctor if you suspect you have any health issues!)
There is no doubt that when you are tired, you could experience temporary dry eye. With conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the dry eye may also be chronic. CFS is more common among people who had mononucleosis previously and, in many ways, it is like having recurring flare-ups of mono, which makes you super tired.
Usually, CFS symptoms last for six months or more and include extreme tiredness, lack of concentration, vision problems, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits and neck, headaches, sore throat, and joint and muscle pain. If you have those symptoms – or most of them – see your physician right away.
In general, if you have dry eye symptoms and have been burning the candle at both ends for too long, make a few common-sense lifestyle adjustments, at least for enough time to get your eyes feeling better and your immune system reserve built back up. Here are some suggestions:
- Drink more water — that’s H2O — not more coffee or juice or soft drinks. Staying hydrated makes it easier for your body to toss off any toxins and get refreshed.
- Get more uninterrupted sleep – you need to get to REM sleep several times a night for this to truly make a difference.
- Spend less time on the computer or use books on tape or a reader, or a pad without backlighting, or one you can adjust to dimmer backlighting.
- Get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise (if you don’t already get sufficient movement in your day).
Along with all those things, change up what you focus on several times an hour. It doesn’t have to be for more than a few seconds, but if your eyes are always glued to a computer screen, it takes a toll on your vision and your health. If you need to, get a computer program that interrupts you to remind you to get up and move around for a minute or to focus on something 20 feet away. Do you practice the 20-20-20 Rule? Let us know how you give your eyes a break below!
Dr. Travis Zigler