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World Water Day: The Importance of Eye Hydration

Posted on March 22nd, 2017

When celebrating World Water Day this March 22, we take time to appreciate our resources here in Canada while committing to philanthropic efforts tackling the international water crisis in developing countries. Water is integral to the survival of all living things, including our bodies, which are made up of 60% water.

A critical element of the body, water is needed for our organs to function. When your body has not hydrated adequately, organs, including the eyes, suffer. When the body does not have enough fluid, we become dehydrated. This is the state when more water leaves the body than enters. This happens typically when people don’t drink enough water or lose large amounts of fluid through bodily processes. Exposure to extreme heat, illness, intake of alcohol, and being a diabetic place your body at a higher risk of dehydration.

An estimated 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated. Water is essential for digestion and circulation, numerous chemical reactions, nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and keeping your blood vessels flexible. Water works to regulate body temperature and benefits the skin by acting as an internal moisturizer, keeping the skin moist, supple and clear, as well as preventing premature aging due to toxic buildup.

Your body in dehydration survival mode

When dehydration sets in, your body’s response is to preserve the limited amount of fluid available. You can tell your body is in conservation mode when you notice your mouth is dry, you are thirsty, you experience a decrease in urine output, or you experience muscle cramping. Other signs of dehydration are headaches, lightheadedness, or drowsiness.

Dehydration causes dry eyes

You’ll also notice dehydration when your eyes become dry. At this point, your body has stopped producing tears, which are needed to wash away foreign matter in the eye, nourish the eye, and help reduce the risk of eye infection. When the eyes stop producing tears, they are no longer lubricated properly and you are at risk of developing dry eye, eye strain, or vision problems. To alleviate dry eye, rehydrate with plenty of water and use artificial tear eye drops if necessary.

Dehydration causes eye strain

Eye strain can also result from dehydration. You’ll know your eyes are strained when you experience tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches, or double vision. These symptoms persist when your eyes lack sufficient lubrication. Rehydrating with fluids will help flush the salt out of your body and eventually hydrate your eyes. Resting your eyes will also encourage relubrication.

Effects of severe dehydration

Severe dehydration can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions, such as kidney stones, shock, coma, organ failure, or death. Symptoms include lethargy, not urinating for eight or more hours, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, weak pulse, inability to sweat, and sunken eyes. Now your body is desperately seeking hydrating fluid and electrolytes to heal. Properly hydrating yourself will begin to reverse the effects of dehydration and restore health.

Prevent dehydration by consuming at least two litres of water a day, and even more during or after exercise. To reduce your risk of dehydration even further, eliminate excess salt, alcohol, caffeine, and high-protein foods from your diet. Read our blog on ways to improve the health of your eyes for more helpful suggestions.