How to Treat Dry Eyes Naturally

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Women touching eyes due to experience of dry eyes

Dry eyes can lead to significant irritation and inflammation, lowering your quality of life. Your optometrist has several ways to relieve your symptoms at home or with in-office treatments, depending on your needs. If you prefer a natural remedy for dry eyes, how can you treat this condition? 

Continue reading to learn more about dry eyes, including how to treat this condition naturally. 

What Causes Dry Eye Disease? 

Dry eye disease is a chronic condition where your tears cannot effectively lubricate your eyes. It happens when complications arise in your tear film. The tear film consists of 3 layers: 

  • Lipid: The oily substance that secretes from glands in your eyelids to help prevent tears from evaporating too quickly
  • Aqueous: The water-like component of your tears
  • Mucous: The layer which helps your tears distribute evenly across your eye’s surface, made from mucins 

Issues in your tear film can lead to dry eye symptoms, such as: 

  • A stinging, burning or scratching sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Eye redness
  • Foreign object sensation
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue 

If you have dry eye symptoms, your eye doctor can determine the cause of your irritation during an eye exam. There are 2 kinds of dry eyes: aqueous tear-deficient or evaporative dry eye disease. Depending on your situation, you may have a combination of both forms of dry eye disease. 

Aqueous Tear-Deficient Dry Eye

Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye disease occurs when you don’t produce enough tears. Tear production tends to slow down with age, but other factors can affect this process.

Causes of this condition include: 

Evaporative Dry Eye

Evaporative dry eye occurs when you have a lack of quality tears. Blockages in the glands lining your eyelids (meibomian glands) are a common cause of this condition. 

Other causes of evaporative dry eye disease include: 

  • Rosacea & other skin conditions 
  • Contact lens overuse
  • Certain medications 
  • Certain diseases
  • Eye allergies
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Regardless of the type of dry eye disease, treatment can help relieve your symptoms. Many dry eye remedies are available today, including over-the-counter, prescription, and in-office options. What options are available if you want to address dry eyes without medical treatment?

How Can You Treat Dry Eyes Naturally?

There are many ways to treat dry eyes naturally. Making some changes to your lifestyle can help you address dry eyes without the need for prescription eye drops or other medical treatments. 

Natural dry eye treatments include: 

Making Changes to Your Environment

Environmental factors such as smoke, wind, and dry air can contribute to dry eye symptoms. You can use several strategies to help protect your eyes.

Consider using wraparound sunglasses when it’s windy outside to prevent dry eyes. Additionally, you can avoid blowing air at home, such as a hairdryer, air conditioner, or fan. A humidifier can help add moisture to your room when the air is dry. 

Omega 3 foods such as fish, nuts eggs, and seeds displayed

Increasing Your Omega-3 Intake

Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation within your body, helping to relieve dry eye disease symptoms. You can take supplements or eat more omega-3 rich foods, such as: 

  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, & mackerel
  • Ground flaxseed & flaxseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

Research has shown increasing your omega-3 consumption can help relieve dry eye symptoms. A 3-month study found that 65% of patients taking omega-3 supplements twice a day experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms. 

Speak with your optometrist first if you’re interested in using additional supplements or vitamins. 

Warm Compresses

Meibomian gland dysfunction, the blocking of the glands which provide oil for your tears, is a common cause of dry eyes. This condition can cause your eyes to dry out more quickly. Warm compresses are a way to address this issue naturally. 

Warm compresses can heat your eyelids to help soften and partially melt the blockages present in your meibomian glands. Improving the oil flow in these glands can help stabilize the tear film, helping your eyes stay moist for longer. 

You can speak with your optometrist about the most effective way to utilize warm compresses for treating dry eye disease. 

Blinking Exercises

People tend to blink less when using digital devices, impacting tear film stability. Infrequent blinking can affect tear distribution and lead to dry eye disease symptoms. Specialized exercises can help improve your blinking pattern. 

In a 4-week study of 54 patients, noticeable improvement in blinking pattern, dry eye symptoms, and tear film quality occurred after completing blinking exercises several times throughout the day. Participants completed an average of 25 cycles of blinking exercises daily, with each cycle lasting around 10 seconds. 

Eyelid Cleaners 

Eyelid cleaners can help wash away bacteria, oils, and other irritants along your lash line. These cleaners can help ease itchiness and inflammation around your eyes. 

There are several types of eyelid cleansers available today. Your eye doctor can recommend an effective option for your needs. 

Taking Care of Yourself 

Taking care of yourself can help keep your eyes healthy. Without proper hydration, you may struggle to produce enough tears. Experts recommend adults drink between 6–8 glasses of water every day

Rest is as important as hydration for your overall health. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep each night, and remember to rest your eyes when you can. Reading and digital device use can dry your eyes. 

You Don’t Need to Live With Dry Eyes

There are many ways to address dry eyes naturally. If you find these remedies are ineffective, your eye doctor can recommend other treatments to help relieve your symptoms. 

Contact your optometrist if you have dry eye symptoms or need an assessment. 

Written by Anita Voisin

Dr. Voisin grew up in Waterloo, Ontario, and graduated as a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 1997. She practiced in Oshawa, Ontario for 2 years prior to joining Trevor Miranda at Cobble Hill Eyecare (formerly Mill Bay Eyecare). In June 2000, Anita also began providing Chemainus with comprehensive ocular health examinations in our then newly opened Chemainus office. Anita strives to improve the quality of life of each of her patients and enjoys educating local organizations on the importance of eye health. She is actively involved in the community with the Chemainus Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Chemainus. Dr. Voisin is dedicated to serving the vision needs of the Cowichan Valley and welcomes new patients at either location. Dr. Voisin is available for appointments in Chemainus and Cobble Hill.
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