Dry, red, and puffy eyes can make you look tired–even sick–and can age you faster than any amount of makeup can mask. But easy lifestyle tweaks can help solve common eye problems.
Close your eyes and take breaks from the computer every 45-60 minutes, for at least two or three minutes, says Paul Anderson, ND, of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. Also eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild Atlantic salmon and sardines or take a fish-oil supplement (1,000 mg) once a day. You can use over-the-counter artificial tears, containing saline and proteins to stimulate tears, as often as needed, says Mitchell H. Friedlaender, MD, an ophthalmologist in La Jolla, California. Preservatives used in eye drops are safe, says Friedlaender, but ones with benzalkonium chloride can cause eye irritation in people who wear contacts or use drops frequently.
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“If your eyes are chronically red, get evaluated by an ophthalmologist to rule out infection,” says Roy S. Rubinfeld, MD, an ophthalmologist in Chevy Chase, Maryland Anything from dryness to allergies may cause redness, but blepharitis–a low-grade inflammation caused by excess oil, dandruff, and staph bacteria on the eyelids–is often to blame, says Rubinfeld. If blepharitis is the culprit, “Clean the lids and lashes with baby shampoo, and rinse off with a wash cloth and warm water,” he says. Also remove makeup with a cotton ball dabbed in cleansing vitamin E oil.
If allergies are causing redness, cover eyes for five to ten minutes with a cold, wet washcloth. Supplement with B12 (1,000 mcg) and bioflavonoid (1,000-3,000 mg) to lower allergic response.
Irritation from dirty or overused contact lenses can also make eyes look red and inflamed. “If they feel uncomfortable, take them out.” But don’t get in the Visine habit, he says. Eye drops that constrict blood vessels can have a rebound effect similar to nose sprays, he says. “Use them and a few hours later, you need more. Eyes get redder and redder over time, especially with frequent use.”
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Circles, bags, and wrinkles
To prevent water retention around the eyes, Derick recommends limiting salt intake to 1,500 mg per day and using creams that contain caffeine, a vasoconstrictor that shrinks blood vessels so they retain less fluid. Creams that contain vitamin K can aid clotting and reduce the appearance of dark circles caused by broken blood vessels. Morning cold compresses can also help constrict blood vessels and drain fluid from around the eyes. At night, apply a vitamin A cream to help stimulate collagen and make wrinkles less apparent. Also try sleeping with your head propped up on a couple of pillows to stimulate drainage, says Derick.
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