Dry Eye Home Remedies and Natural Treatments
Eyes drops are commonly used to treat dry eyes because they immediately moisturize the eye and relieve the symptoms. Unfortunately, eye drops need to be applied frequently, which can be cumbersome. For this reason, many people with dry eyes look for alternative options.
The following home remedies and natural treatments can effectively relieve dry eye symptoms:
1. Warm Compresses or Heated Eye Masks
Meibomian gland dysfunction is the most common cause of dry eyes.1 This gland is located at the eye lid’s outer edge and produces the lipid-containing layer of the tear film. This is the outer layer that protects the aqueous tear fluid from evaporation. Heat helps to reduce the viscosity of lipid-containing secretions produced by the gland, which can release any blockages.2
To apply warm compresses, simply soak a clean facecloth in boiled and slightly cooled down water, and place it on closed eyes for a few minutes. The right temperature is crucial: it should not be so hot that it hurts, but still as warm as possible.
You can also use a special heated eye mask for this purpose, which may be easier to apply.
2. Eyelid Hygiene
Because dry eyes are associated with inflammation, good eyelid hygiene is crucial.3 Ideally, you should clean your eyelids daily. Cotton pads soaked in Eyebright are ideal for this purpose. Eyebright is a medicinal plant that is said to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The plant is commonly used in naturopathy against eye problems, and its extracts are sometimes added to eye drops.4
For application, simply pour 8.5 fl oz of boiling water over one teaspoon of eyebright tea, infuse for 5 minutes, and let it cool down. Then, soak a cotton pad in the tea and carefully clean your eyelids.
3. Sufficient Sleep
Restful sleep is vital for overall health, and that includes your eyes. There is indeed a relationship between a lack of sleep and dry eyes. Studies have shown that poor quality of sleep or lack of sleep can lead to dry eyes.5,6 Setting up a healthy sleep routine can therefore help you reduce your symptoms.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. What’s more, a sufficient supply of omega-3 fats improves the composition of the lipid-containing secretions of the meibomian gland, thereby preventing the evaporation of the tear film and keeping the eyes moist. The therapeutic benefits of omega-3 supplementation for the treatment of dry eye syndrome is well documented.7 If you prefer not to take supplements, you can obtain omega-3 from fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and herring.
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is vital for eye health and function, and studies show that a lack of this vitamin can cause dry eye.8,9 Acute Vitamin A deficiency is rare, but the supply is not always optimal, so it is important to eat foods that are rich in this essential nutrient. Pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. Liver is also a good source of Vitamin A.
6. Avoid Contact Lenses
Wearing contact lenses every day can lead to dry eyes. In fact, dry eyes are the most common reason why people stop wearing contact lenses.10 Wearing glasses more often than wearing contacts helps to improve dry eye symptoms.
7. Avoid Dry Air and Drafts
Dry heated air and air-conditioned rooms cause not only dry skin but also dry eyes. Air moisture can be easily increased with the help of air humidifiers.
8. More Frequent Blinking
Your blinking rate is highly individual, but the average blink rate is around 17 blinks per minute.11 When you work in front of a computer screen, your blinking rate may decrease to just a few eyelid movements per minute.12 Because the ocular surface gets moisturized with each eyelid movement, working on a computer for many hours a day can lead to dry eyes. It is difficult to remind yourself to blink more often, however a software that measures eyelid movements and sends regular reminders to blink can help to improve dry eyes.
Takeaway: Natural Remedies Against Dry Eyes Can Be Effective
If your dry eyes persist over a long time, and natural treatments don’t improve the symptoms, it is crucial to see a doctor. Dry eyes are associated with inflammation, which can further damage the eye, so it is important to find a solution. In many cases, dry eye symptoms can be relieved with home remedies. Give these a try and see if they work for you.
1. Tong L, Chaurasia SS, Mehta JS, Beuerman RW. Screening for Meibomian Gland Disease: Its Relation to Dry Eye Subtypes and Symptoms in a Tertiary Referral Clinic in Singapore. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2010;51(7):3449. doi:10.1167/iovs.09-4445
2. Olson MC, Korb DR, Greiner J v. Increase in Tear Film Lipid Layer Thickness Following Treatment with Warm Compresses in Patients with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice. 2003;29(2):96-99. doi:10.1097/01.ICL.0000060998.20142.8D
3. Pflugfelder SC, de Paiva CS. The Pathophysiology of Dry Eye Disease. Ophthalmology. 2017;124(11):S4-S13. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.07.010
4. Paduch R, Woźniak A, Niedziela P, Rejdak R. Assessment of Eyebright (Euphrasia Officinalis L.) Extract Activity in Relation to Human Corneal Cells Using In Vitro Tests. Balkan Medical Journal. 2014;33(1):29-36. doi:10.5152/balkanmedj.2014.8377
5. Tang L, Wang X, Wu J, et al. Sleep Deprivation Induces Dry Eye Through Inhibition of PPARα Expression in Corneal Epithelium. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2018;59(13):5494. doi:10.1167/iovs.18-24504
6. Lee W, Lim S-S, Won J-U, et al. The association between sleep duration and dry eye syndrome among Korean adults. Sleep Medicine. 2015;16(11):1327-1331. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2015.06.021
7. Borras J, Oleñik A. Effectiveness and tolerability of dietary supplementation with a combination of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants in the treatment of dry eye symptoms: results of a prospective study. Clinical Ophthalmology. January 2014:169. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S54658
8. Alanazi SA, El-Hiti GA, Al-Baloud AA, et al. Effects of short-term oral vitamin A supplementation on the ocular tear film in patients with dry eye. Clinical Ophthalmology. 2019;Volume 13:599-604. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S198349
9. Wardeh R, Besgen V, Sekundo W. Therapy-resistant dry itchy eyes. Journal of Ophthalmic Inflammation and Infection. 2019;9(1):13. doi:10.1186/s12348-019-0178-7
10. Pritchard N, Fonn D, Brazeau D. Discontinuation of contact lens wear: a survey. International Contact Lens Clinic. 1999;26(6):157-162. doi:10.1016/S0892-8967(01)00040-2
11. Bentivoglio AR, Bressman SB, Cassetta E, Carretta D, Tonali P, Albanese A. Analysis of blink rate patterns in normal subjects. Movement Disorders. 1997;12(6):1028-1034. doi:10.1002/mds.870120629
12. Freudenthaler N, Neuf H, Kadner G, Schlote T. Characteristics of spontaneous eyeblink activity during video display terminal use in healthy volunteers. Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. 2003;241(11):914-920. doi:10.1007/s00417-003-0786-6