Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects many people worldwide. Those who spend long hours in front of a laptop, computer or smartphones risk contracting this disorder. People often don’t take the condition seriously and ignore the symptoms. If appropriate treatment is not provided to treat the disorder, it may even result in permanent blindness. In the United States alone, nearly 5 million people age 50 and older suffer from dry eye. Women are predominantly afflicted with the condition, with more than 3 million diagnosed with dry eye due to hormonal changes associated with menopause.1
In medical terms, this condition is called keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Dry eye syndrome affects over 60% of the world’s population, including children. Lack of lubrication in the eyes is the primary reason for this condition, which causes the eyes to become dry, inflamed, red, vision blurring, and even permanent vision loss. Appropriate medical intervention is absolutely necessary. Here are some effective home remedies for treating dry eyes.
Insufficient fatty acids, especially omega-3, in your diet can cause dry eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing inflammation in the body, promote tear production, and improve the quality of the tears. Omega 3s are an important component of fat molecules, which keep the eyes healthy. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology shows that omega-3s play an important role in ensuring eye health and in preventing dry eye syndrome.2 Consuming a diet comprising omega 3s can ensure healthy eyes. Sea foods such as salmon, caviar, mackerel, herring, anchovy, sardines, and oysters contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Other foods rich in omega 3s are spinach, soybeans, walnut, almond, chia seed and flax seed oil.
2. Castor Oil
Castor oil is an effective remedy to treat the symptoms of dry eyes. It contains ricinoleic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory agent that relieves itching, irritation, burning and pain associated with dry eye syndrome, and helps reduce tear evaporation. Ensure that you buy pure, organic, hexane-free castor oil. Using an eye dropper, introduce a drop of castor oil into each eye twice a day moisturize the eyes and to reduce redness.
A 2002 study reports that castor oil eye drops are effective and safe in treating meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), a major cause of dry eyes. The study showed that castor oil eye drops improve tear stability due to lipid spreading, the prevention of tear evaporation, and the lubricating effect of the oil.3 In another 2007 study, researchers found that the castor oil-water emulsion was effective in reducing tear evaporation.4
3. Regular Eye Wash
Dry eyes cause irritation, which makes you rub the eyes vigorously. Constantly rubbing the eyes must be avoided to reduce inflammation. Maintaining appropriate eye hygiene helps relieve this discomfort. Washing your eyes at regular intervals keeps the eyes moist and removes any dust or grime that may cause irritation and infections. Place a few drops of baby shampoo or mild soap on your clean fingertips. Close your eyes and gently massage the eyelids near the base of your eyelashes for a minute. Then, rinse the soap from your eyelids using lukewarm water. Doing this twice a day can help alleviate the symptoms that accompany the dry eye syndrome.
4. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is an effective home remedy for dry eyes, thanks to its alkaline nature, its moisturizing property and its anti-inflammatory effect, which help reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation. The gel can be easily extracted or even bought from a store. First, rinse an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel. Apply some of this gel on a piece of facial tissue and gently wipe it on the outside of the eyelids. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse it using lukewarm water. Repeat this procedure twice or thrice a day. But, don’t allow the gel to enter the eyes.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizing agent for your eyes and plays a key role in reducing the symptoms of dry eyes. Its rich fatty acids form a protective layer over the tear film layers that helps prevent tear evaporation. Its anti-inflammatory qualities help reduce the discomfort caused by dry eyes. A 2015 study concludes that virgin coconut oil acts as a safe re-wetting eye drop and shows no major difference in the measurable parameter compared to over-the-counter branded eye drops and saline.5 Using a sterile piece of cotton, soak a few drops of coconut oil. Close your eyes and place the cotton swab the closed eyelids for 15 minutes. Regular use of this technique will provide relief and help treat the condition.
6. Warm Compress
A nice, warm compress can do wonders for the eyes. Since this condition is characterized by the lack of moisture, a warm compress can help bring back that lost moisture. First, soak a clean cloth in hot water (not more than 108 degrees Fahrenheit) and squeeze out the excess water. Place the moist, warm cloth over the closed eyelids for 10 minutes. Once the warmth and moisture reduce, soak the cloth in warm water again and repeat the procedure. Finally, rinse your eyes with lukewarm water.
Alternatively, you can also use milk instead of water. Milk contains many enzymes that can soothe and relax the eye muscles. Use a sterile piece of cotton and dip it in cold milk. Place the damp cotton over closed eyelids and leave it for 10 minutes. Add a few drops of rose water to the milk to improve the results.
7. Cool Cucumber
Cucumbers are renowned for their cooling effect, irrespective of whether you eat them or place them over your eyes. It is popular with both dietitians and beauticians. Placing a slice of cucumber over each eye helps relieve the strain. It can sooth the tired eye muscles and remove excess heat. Cucumber rejuvenates the functioning of the circulatory system, thereby improving blood flow. Chop a couple of slices of cucumber and place them over your eyes to treat the dry eye syndrome.
8. Blinking Exercise
Blinking your eyes frequently improves the flow of tears, which help moisten the eyes. It also spreads the tears to the corners of the eyes, which reduces the symptoms of dry eyes, improves blood circulation to the eyes and reduces eye strain. Every time you blink, the tears wash away dirt particles and bring in nutrients that keep the surface of the eyes healthy. People working with computers and laptops blink less often and constantly gaze at the screens,6 which causes the eyes to go dry. A simple three-step blinking exercise mentioned here can ensure eye health in the long run. First, gently close your eyes and count to 2. Now, squeeze the eyelids together for two counts. Finally, open your eyes and count to 2.7 This exercise washes your eyes completely and replenishes the eye with a fresh layer of tears.
9. Rose Water
Rose water is also an effective remedy to treat dry eyes. It relaxes the strained and tired eyes naturally and clears any particles that may cause damage to the eyes. It also increases tear flow over the eyes and lubricates the eyeball. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause dry eyes. Since rose water is high in vitamin A, it helps restore the moisture in the eyes. Vitamin A protects the eyes from free radicals, toxins, allergens, and inflammation. It plays an important role in the production of the mucin layer, the most innermost lubricating layer of tear film that is crucial for a healthy tear film.8 Soak a sterile piece of cotton in rose water, dab it gently over your closed eyelids and leave it on for 10 minutes. Repeat this twice or thrice a day for best results. Alternatively, you can also rinse your eyes with pure rose water or use pure rose water as eye drops.
10. Eye Massage
Massaging an area of our body helps relieve stress and improves blood circulation. The same goes with the eyes. Stimulate the tear glands by gently massaging the eyelid. This promotes tear secretion and thereby prevents dry eyes. A gentle eye massage can relax the muscles around your eyes and improve blood circulation to the eyes. Place a couple of drops of olive oil or coconut oil on your fingertips. Gently massage over closed eyelids for about two minutes. The oil will be absorbed by the eyelids and sooth the eyes.
|↑1||Gawlowicz Susan. A cure for dry eye could be a blink away. Rochester Institute of Technology. 2014.|
|↑2||Bhargava, Rahul, Prachi Kumar, Manjushrii Kumar, Namrata Mehra, and Anurag Mishra. “A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome.” International journal of ophthalmology 6, no. 6 (2013): 811.|
|↑3||Goto, Eiki, Jun Shimazaki, Y. U. Monden, Yoji Takano, Yukiko Yagi, Shigeto Shimmura, and Kazuo Tsubota. “Low-concentration homogenized castor oil eye drops for noninflamed obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction.” Ophthalmology 109, no. 11 (2002): 2030-2035.|
|↑4||Khanal, Santosh, Alan Tomlinson, Edward I. Pearce, and Peter A. Simmons. “Effect of an oil-in-water emulsion on the tear physiology of patients with mild to moderate dry eye.” Cornea 26, no. 2 (2007): 175-181.|
|↑5||Mutalib, Haliza Abdul, Sharanjeet Kaur, Ahmad Rohi Ghazali, Ng Chinn Hooi, and Nor Hasanah Safie. “A pilot study: the efficacy of virgin coconut oil as ocular rewetting agent on rabbit eyes.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).|
|↑6||Karpecki M. Paul. Blinking Exercises. PECAA. 2015.|
|↑7||Blinking Exercises. Dry Eye Center. 2015.|
|↑8||Phadatare, Suvarna P., Munira Momin, Premanand Nighojkar, Sonali Askarkar, and Kamalinder K. Singh. “A comprehensive review on dry eye disease: diagnosis, medical management, recent developments, and future challenges.” Advances in Pharmaceutics 2015 (2015).|