Sunday 22 October 2017

Five tips to prevent watering eyes

Modern living can cause discomfort to our eyes. Claire O'Mahony gives advice on how to alleviate irritated tear ducts.

Eye allergies are extremely common and many things can cause them
Eye allergies are extremely common and many things can cause them

Constantly watering eyes is not the most terrible of afflictions but it's still very annoying. It also ruins make-up and has the unwelcome side effect of having people ask 'Are you ok?' because they think you've been crying. What to do?

The good news for sufferers is that watering eyes - the medical name is epiphora - are generally nothing to worry about and you can probably work out and eliminate what's causing it. It's common as you get older, as the quality of our tears decrease and fail to keep our eyes sufficiently lubricated, resulting in overcompensating with the production of more tears. If tearing as been going on for a long time and is accompanied by pain or any kind of discharge, it's best to consult a doctor. Otherwise, try the following to deal with watering eyes.

1 Practise safe make-up

Eye cosmetics are safe but it's also necessary to be scrupulous about hygiene because eye make-up can also be harbingers of germs. Replace mascaras every two to four months and never, ever wet mascara that has dried up with saliva or water. Regularly clean eye make-up applicators, and if your eyes are any way sensitive, avoid multi-tasking products and only use eye pencils on eyes and lip pencils on lips. When it comes to putting on make-up avoid anything iridescent or sparkly, which can irritate eyes, and don't apply mascara at the base of your eyeline and try and keep away from the lash roots. If your eyes are sensitive, use products specifically designed for this problem. Also, it's never a good idea to share eye cosmetics with someone, no matter how good a friend they are.

2 Avoid allergens

Eye allergies are extremely common and many things can cause them, usually air borne, from dust to pollen, mould and pet fur. They can develop at any point in life and it's all about reducing as much contact with a suspected allergen as possible. On high pollen-count days for example, try to stay indoors if you can, and wear wrap-around glasses when you go outside. If you wear contact lenses, consider cutting down on wearing them or to switch to daily disposables to cut down on allergen build-up on your lenses. And while it might be difficult, avoid rubbing your eyes because this releases more histamine, the body's natural reaction to an allergen, which will make your symptoms worse. Eye drops, anti-histamines and nasal decongestions can all help but the best advice is to do your utmost to limit your contact with the allergen in the first place.

3 Put down the smartphone and shut off the laptop

We're hardly away from a screen, whether that's at work or at play and our addiction to our digital advices is having a knock-on effect on our eye health. Computer vision syndrome is thought to affect between 60 and 90pc of people who work with computers, which leads to eye fatigue, where symptoms include blurred vision, watering or sometimes dry eyes and difficulty focussing. Part of the reason computers cause eye fatigue is because we tend to blink less when looking at a screen with studies suggesting that we only blink half as much when we're on computers or smartphones in comparison to the normal rate of 18 times a minute. It's not a serious condition but you can help your eyes by taking regular breaks from the screen and keeping the screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes.

4 Winterproof your eyes

The calendar tells us that spring is here but with Met Eireann warning us that spring isn't going to happen until March, we can expect some harsh weather yet to come. Winter is incredibly hard on eyes with the cold air being a natural irritant. Dry eye syndrome is a common result and strange as it sounds, one of the symptoms of this is watering eyes, because excess tears are produced to help with lubrication. On cold days, no matter how cloudy it is and how ridiculous you might feel, wear sunglasses. If you're doing outside sports like running or cycling, don a visor or goggles, and don't forget to keep blinking in the cold winter air if your eyes are unprotected. When you've been out in cold water, a warm compress can help tackle your subsequent watery eyes. Simply put a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess liquid and place the cloth over your eyes for ten minutes. This will help with irritation, get rid of any debris and also improve the function of the eyelid's oil glands.

5 Do some damage limitation

Just because you have watering eyes, it doesn't mean you have to forgo your usual make-up applications, but you may need to make some changes and most importantly avoid anything that will create further wateriness. Use a silicone-based primer to set foundation in place and stop the track marks left by rivulets of tears. Try a creamy eyeshadow instead of a powder one, which is more likely to fall into the eye and opt for a waterproof volumising mascara, not one with fibres, as again these can fall into the eye. If you want to wear eyeliner, don't put any pencil on the waterline but apply instead to the lash line, so that you won't cause irritation.

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