I've long suffered from dry eye syndrome, even as a teenager. The culprit is certainly the amount of time I spend looking at various screens, though my eyes do seem to become more irritated during allergy season when there are a lot of particles in the air. Antihistamines, however, do nothing to relieve my symptoms, and they persist year-round.
Well, I've put just about everything I could safely find into my eyes to try to find relief but drops only seem to exacerbate the issue, providing momentary relief at best. The only thing I've found to work long-term, and consistently, is eye-area manipulation.
Daily eye-area stretches and massages have all but eliminated my eye drop usage and leave me feeling comfortably energized and focused afterward. I'm going to cover my basic routine here as well as my preferred tool.
Facial Massage Tool - RAD Rounds
After settling on manual therapy as my treatment of choice for dry eye syndrome I tested various products to see which I liked the best. Much like with eye drops I struggled to find something that worked. While there are myriad tools and toys you can buy to self-massage many of them weren't designed for the eye area or other such nooks and crannies on the human form. Following much trial and error, however, I did find a favorite!
The Rounds are a set of 3 myofascial release balls designed and produced by RAD Roller. The balls come in three different sizes and densities, all geared towards working predominately on the hands, feet, and face. The smallest of these three tools is my very favorite for eye-area manipulation. The small, black, Micro Round is the size of a dime and can fit perfectly into my temple or just under my eyebrows. It doubles as a carpal massager for my fingers.
The tools are made of medical-grade silicone and can be washed in the sink with soap and water as well. All three of them weigh less than 1/2lb together so I can carry them anywhere and even put them in my pocket if I wished. Conveniently, it is also the most affordable toolset that RAD Roller offers. Out of everything I tried out this was the most portable, cost-effective, and physically effective option on the market.
Disclaimer: Before I jump into it, I want to say that you should carefully wash your hands and any intended tools with soap and warm water before ever putting them near your eyes.
Step #1: Open and Close
Close your eyes as tightly as you can for 3 seconds, then open them as wide as you can for the same. Open, close, open, close. Do this sequence ten times. Do not use your hands for this, use your eye and facial muscles only. This stretches the fine muscles around the eyes, forehead, and cheeks as well as the tear ducts themselves. You may feel a little silly, but it's great to stretch those facial muscles. We are always worrying about our larger muscle groups and paying them service but never these smaller, equally essential ones.
Step #2: Roll Your Head
Roll your head in a circle, next, stretching the muscles at the insertion point of the spine and neck. Holding your head up causes incredible strain in these muscles which can be transferred into smaller, nearby processes. The whole body is connected and if your eyes are sore and dry from overuse your entire head and body are just as needy. Do not try to pop your neck! If it happens it happens, but don't seek the snap. If you work at a desk like I do you'll feel this stretch working right away.
Step #3: Roll Those Eyes
Now I like to take my black Micro Round and place it very lightly over the top of my closed eyelid (Under my eyebrows) with my fingertips only. Don't press down, just place it there. If this is uncomfortable for you in any way, skip to the next paragraph. Some do not like any pressure on their eyes whatsoever. With both of your eyes gently closed, begin rolling the Micro Round in small circles across the right eyelid. Putting light pressure on the eye stimulates the vagus nerve which is a heart rate reducer as well as a stress reliever.
After you do this 5 times move to the left eyelid and repeat.
Then put the round just above the apple of your cheekbone and run it in a clockwise circle around the eye socket 5 times. Follow the inner path of your eye socket, meaning you run up below the eyebrow, inside the nose, and above the cheekbone. Then turn around and do it counterclockwise. Move to the other eye and repeat.
Step #4: Massage Around
Take your Round and hold it with your fingers. Then place it against your right temple. Gently catch the skin and massage the area with a slow, circular rhythm 5 times clockwise, then 5 times counterclockwise. Then put your palm flat against it and roll the ball over the temple with gentle pressure, repeating as needed. Move to the other side of the head and perform the same number of repetitions. If the black Micro Round is too small feel free to bump yourself up to the blue Medium Round in the set for this next part.
Take your tool of choice and roll it back and forth across each of your eyebrows all the way to the temple then back to where the brow begins forming. It is easiest to focus on one eyebrow at a time. I carry a lot of sinus tension here so this always feels great. After rolling both eyebrows, center the tool over your third eye and roll with circular and gentle pressure there for 10 seconds.
Step #5: Look Around
Finally, remove your hands from your face and with your eyes still closed look left then right as far as you can, stretching the inner eye muscles 5 times in each direction. Next, look all the way up and down for the same effect. Do not move your head when performing these eye exercises, just the eye itself.
It's such a good stretch!
This should all take about 5 minutes and you can perform these routines at your desk, in your car at a stoplight, at home before bed, pretty much whenever your eyes feel like they need some attention. Light pressure is essentially contact with the skin and nothing more. You should not be sore after this routine. Moving the skin layer of your body is all that's needed to really give these small muscles in the face the attention they need.
Massage relief may not work for everyone who suffers from dry eye syndrome, but for me, it is the absolute best!
Author: Meghan Sinneck