Talk to any eye doctor, and they will tell you that dry eyes are the most frequent complaint that they hear from their patients. The National Eye Institute state that this painful condition mostly occurs because your tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly (1).
In most cases, dry eye syndrome can be managed and terminated successfully. However, depending on the cause and severity, it may not be entirely curable.
Signs and symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Stinging or burning of the eye
- A gritty feeling in the eye
- Heavy eyelids
- Eye fatigue
- Pain and redness of the eye
- Episodes of blurred vision
- Pain when wearing contact lenses
While dry eyes can be a distressing experience, there are plenty of natural remedies which can help alleviate your symptoms.
Common Causes Of Dry Eyes
There’s not a single cause as for why dry eyes happen, but one of the most common reasons includes an imbalance in the tear-flow system. According to Mayo Clinic, tear flow can be effected by the wind, smoke, and dry air (2).
Although dry eyes can affect anyone of any age, it is more common in women than in men.
The chances of developing dry eye syndrome increases as you age, with NHS UK estimating that one in every three people over the age of 65 will experience problems with dry eyes (3).
Some other common dry eye causes include:
- Wearing contact lenses
- Hormonal changes in women including the menopause or pregnancy
- Medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency
- Certain drugs such as antihistamine, birth control pills, and anti-depressants
- Infrequent blinking as a result of staring at screens for too long
- Laser eye surgery
If left untreated, dry itchy eyes can lead to ulcers, an increased risk of serious infections, and, in extremely severe cases, permanent loss of vision. While the loss of vision due to dryness is uncommon, it’s just not worth taking any chances.
Having dry eyes can make performing certain tasks such as using a computer, driving or reading for an extended period of time a difficult, painful and generally miserable experience.
14 Home Remedies For Dry Eyes
Common dry eye conditions are a pain. While you may be tempted to reach for the nearest eye drops, you’re not doing your eye any favors. Eye drops mask dryness instead of treating the underlying cause. They’re also costly and contains a slew of chemicals. Instead, give these simple remedies a try.
1. Staying Hydrated Is Vital
Dry eyes could be a signal that your body is dehydrated, and you’re not drinking enough water. Prevention Magazine states that drinking plenty of water will help to keep the mucous membranes around your eyes moist (4).
While the recommended daily amount of water is 8-10 glasses, you may have to drink more hydrate and relieve dry eyes. Hydration is especially important if you’re regularly drinking coffee (a diuretic), or live in a dry and windy climate.
To stay hydrated:
- Ensure you’re drinking 8 + glasses of water regularly throughout the day.
- Remove excess salt from your diet.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine, high-protein foods, and alcohol.
2. Wash Your Eyelids For Relief
While we don’t always think about our eyelids, keeping them clean will help them function properly. Developing a regular cleaning routine is essential to reduce irritation and eye inflammation.
When you clean your eyelids, you’re removing debris and oils from around the eyelashes. This helps decrease the quantity of bacteria forming around the eyelids and relieve red itchy eyes.
- Wet a cloth with warm water.
- Apply the cloth to your eyes for 5 minutes.
- Use a mild, eye-safe soap or cleaning solution and lather it in your hands.
- Use your fingers to gently massage the soap onto your closed eyelids.
- Carefully rinse your eyelids and pat dry.
3. Try A Warm Compress
According to Health Line, using a warm compress not only provides relief to sore eyes, but it can help to release some of the oil in your eyelids’ glands and, in turn, improve the quality of your tears (5).
Here’s how to make a warm compress:
- Boil some water and leave it to cool until it’s a warm temperature.
- Soak a clean flannel or an eye pad in the warm water.
- Gently place the flannel or pad over the eyes for around 10 minutes.
- Reheat the compress when you find it becoming cold by soaking it in the warm water and reapplying to your eyes.
4. Coconut Oil Eye Salvation
Is there nothing coconut oil can’t do? Due to its composition of fatty acids, coconut oil can play a key role in helping to reduce the symptoms of dry eye syndrome by acting as a moisturizing agent for your eyes. You can also use coconut oil as a lubricant that fights eye inflammation.
All-natural lubricating eyes drops don’t exist yet, to here’s what you can do:
- Soak a cotton ball in coconut oil.
- Place the cotton ball directly on your closed eyelids.
- Leave there for 15 minutes.
- Repeat at regular intervals throughout the day.
5. Use Castor Oil
In 2002 a study was published in Ophthalmology which established that castor oil eye drops are an effective and safe way to treat meibomian gland dysfunction, one of the causes of dry eyes (6).
The ricinoleic acid in the oil works as an anti-inflammatory agent. This helps relieve itching, irritation, burning and pain associated with dry eye syndrome. The oil can also help reduce tear evaporation.
When using this home remedy, ensure to buy a pure and organic cold pressed castor oil.
- Using an eye dropper, place one drop of castor oil in each eye
- To keep your eyes moisturized and to reduce redness, repeat the process twice daily.
6. Always Wear Sunglasses
If your dry eyes are caused by your environment – say you live in a hot, dry climate – sunglasses can dramatically improve your condition. And if you’re going to wear them anyways, pick a pair sunglasses that blocks 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays.
The National Eye Institute says that dark sunglasses with side shields are particularly good at helping to slow tear evaporation from the eye surfaces (7).
Consider investing in special sunglasses if you live with chronic dry eye syndrome. If not just using ordinary wrap around shades whenever you go outside will protect your eyes from wind, dust, and other irritants.
7. Blink Your Way Back To Health
Not blinking enough is one of the main causes of dry eyes. And, because of our exposure to screens, most of us aren’t blinking as much as we should be. Blinking maintains the right amount of moisture in the eye surface, while also cleaning and moisturizes all the parts of the eye.
The brilliant blog All About Dry Eye claims that under normal circumstances, your blinking rate is an average 4 seconds, about 15 times a minute. When staring at a bright screen our blinking rate decreases by up to 70% (8)!
How to do it:
- Close both of your eyes, pause for 2 seconds, then open them.
- Close your eyes again, pause 2 seconds and then squeeze them tightly together for 2 seconds. Open them again.
- Repeat every 20 minutes several times a day until your symptoms improve.
8. Introduce More Omega-3 Into Your Diet
If you’re not getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet, especially omega-3 fatty acids, this could be a leading contribution to your dry eye syndrome. A study conducted in 2013 and published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that omega-3 fatty acids have an effect on dry eye syndrome (8).
What omega-3s do is help stimulate tear production and produce higher quality tears. The fatty acids such as those found in fish oil are excellent for dry eyes.
To cure your eyes, include foods high in omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. Good sources include fish oils, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and walnuts. You can also take omega-3 supplements.
9. Look Into Acupuncture
Acupuncture relieves dry eyes by increasing tear secretion and stability, reducing tear film break-up, and preventing ocular damage.
Research published in the Chinese Journal of Practical Ophthalmology finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of dry eye syndrome (9). Investigators discovered acupuncture radically improves the outcomes for patients using lubricant eye drops for dry eye syndrome. Patients receiving acupuncture plus eye drops had a 76.92% total effective rate. Patients receiving only eye drops had a 53.85% total effective rate.
After getting trusted recommendations, check the practitioner’s training and credentials then ask how likely it is to help your condition and how much it will cost. Finally, tell your doctor you’re considering acupuncture before going through with it.
10. Invest In A Humidifier
Central heating has the tendency to dry out the air in your home which in turn, will cause dry sinus tissue and dry out your eyes. By using a humidifier, you can add some moisture back into the air. Having more moisture in the air means that your tears will evaporate more slowly. This is especially important during the winter (10).
Do your research before purchasing a humidifier and take the following into consideration:
- The size of the unit
- Cool mist humidifier or warm mist humidifier?
- Cleaning and maintenance
Opening your windows for a few minutes on cold days, then longer in spring and summer will also help keep the air moist.
11. Cut Down On Screen time
Cornea specialists report that dry eyes have reached epidemic levels, chiefly due to the amount of time spent in front of screens. It’s possible, however, to manage dry eyes and prevent them from reoccurring by making a few changes in terms of the position and location of your computer. It’s particularly important to cut down screen time for kids.
Here’s what you can do:
- Move your computer monitor from the window to avoid glare or superfluous light.
- Make use of adjustable shades, blinds or curtains to control the light during the day.
- Adjust the height of your monitor so that the center of the screen is 5 to 9 inches below your horizontal line of sight.
- Adjust the display settings so the brightness of your monitor matches the brightness of your surroundings.
12. Turn Away From Tobacco
All About Vision states that tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant, and worsens dry eye — even among second-hand smokers — particularly for those wearing contact lenses (11). Furthermore, people who smoke are nearly twice as likely to have dry eyes.
To improve eye health, throw away the cigarettes. If you think you will need help in quitting permanently, try these remedies. It’s also a good idea to schedule an eye exam. It’s also important that you tell your family and friends you are quitting, and that in the future you will need to avoid second-hand smoke. When it comes to smoking, it’s best to just say no.
13. Give Your Eyes The Luxury Of A Massage
Regular massaging your eyelids stimulates the tear glands and helps in preventing dry eyes. It will also improve the blood circulation to the eyes and relax the muscles around them. This is great for relieving digital eye strain.
Here’s to give yourself an eye-boosting facial massage:
- Put a few drops of olive oil or coconut oil on your fingertips.
- Gently rub the oil over your closed eyelids and around your eyes.
- Massage for a couple of minutes.
- Place your palms over your eyelids and cover them completely for another few minutes.
- Don’t rinse the oil off your eyelids. It will be absorbed by your skin.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
14. Go To Bed Earlier To Benefit Your Eyes
Dry eyes may be caused by sleep deprivation, so a deep sleep can really work wonders. Sleep provides your body with the time that it needs to heal itself. Moreover, your eyes, just like your body, require 7-8 hours rest a night to be in peak condition. By depriving yourself of sleep, you’re doing your eyes no favors.
The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough. To get all the sleep you need, switch off the TV, put down your phone and get to bed earlier. If you’re used to not having enough sleep, try to get 7-8 hours a night for a week. No excuses. You’ll notice how much better you feel overall, and the condition of your eyes will improve dramatically.
Your eyes are, without question, one of the most important parts of your body. They shouldn’t be neglected, especially when it’s so easy to take care of them using these simple, inexpensive remedies.