3 Natural Remedies for Dry Eye Syndrome

3 Natural Remedies for Dry Eye Syndrome

More people are struggling with dry eye syndrome than ever before. In fact, the National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that,

“Nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Tens of millions more have less severe symptoms.”

Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca or xerophthalmia, dry eye accounts for one in four patients visiting their eye doctor. Most are elderly but dry eye is affecting people of all ages with many women experiencing symptoms shortly after menopause. There are a variety of dry eye causes including environmental pollutants, reaction to medicine, trauma, contact lenses, age and hormone imbalance.

Conventional medicine treats dry eye by recommending special eye drops, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain or anti-inflammatory medicine, tear duct treatment and sometimes surgery. However, one or more of these 3 natural remedies for dry eye syndrome could help before going the conventional route.

Check Your Symptoms

It is always best to visit your eye doctor for a checkup at lease once per year, particularly if you are over fifty. Prolonged periods of dry eye syndrome without treatment could impair vision.

The NEI describes two types of dry eye syndrome:

Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye – A disorder in which the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the watery component of tears to maintain a healthy eye surface.

Evaporative dry eye – May result from inflammation of the meibomian glands, also located in the eyelids. These glands make the lipid or oily part of tears that slows evaporation and keeps the tears stable.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms let your doctor know so you can get a confirmed diagnosis before using a natural remedy.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to cry
  • Light sensitivity
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Burning, itchiness, redness
  • Uncomfortable contact lenses
  • Excessive tears following dryness
  • Continued bouts of stringy discharge
  • Difficulty using sustained vision like reading, computer, or surgery

Take More Acid

Omega-3 fatty acid has shown some significant results in preventing or treating dry eye.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that,

“These results suggest that a higher dietary intake of n−3 FAs [omega 3] is associated with a decreased incidence of DES [dry eye syndrome in women. These findings are consistent with anecdotal clinical observations and postulated biological mechanisms.”

Talk to your doctor about taking 500 or more milligrams of DHA and EPA omega-3 supplements per day as well as adding more oily fish to your diet to see if your dry eye is relieved. Vegetarians and vegans should mix flaxseed, chia seed, hemp seed, and walnut together or look for a comparable supplement to get the full omega-3 spectrum.

Oil Up

Tears are essential in not only lubricating but protecting the eye as well. Included in the makeup of tears are essential lipid (fat) oils which may need replacing when ‘lipid-deficient’. This is the case for people suffering with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), a major cause of lipid-deficiency dry eye.

Castor oil eyedrops use an age-old food and lubricant to challenge OTC, synthetic attempts.

A study published in Ophthalmology (11/02) by researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan concluded that,

“The results indicate that castor oil eye drops are effective and safe in the treatment of MGD. The possible mechanisms of this treatment are improvement of tear stability as a result of lipid spreading, ease of meibum expression, prevention of tear evaporation, and the lubricating effect of the oil eye drops.”

Check your local health food store or online for castor oil eye drops.

Go Coco

Another beneficial oil that may help alleviate dry eye better than a conventional choice is coconut oil. Always check with your doctor but it was found that, because of its anti-bacterial property, coconut oil can be applied to the eyes for dry syndrome relief and in some cases, reverse it.

Malaysian researchers conducted a study published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (2/23/15) that reported,

“VCO [virgin coconut oil] is not merely a composition of fatty acids but it also acts as a protective layer over the tear film layers from evaporation. VCO with its anti-inflammatory properties might be useful for those with dry eyes problem…In conclusion, it has been shown that VCO did not cause harmful effects when used on rabbits’ eyes. This finding suggests that VCO are safe to be used on human’s eyes…The beneficial effect of VCO is most likely attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties, which is similar to those of natural tears.”

Gently warm organic, virgin coconut oil in a separate glass bowl surrounded by heated water (do not use a microwave as it will change the oil’s components). Without touching it with your hands, draw the oil into a sterilized glass eye dropper (sold OTC in most pharmaceutical stores) and apply to eyes. Always use a small amount first to gauge your reaction. Never re-use the leftover oil.

These 3 natural remedies for dry eye syndrome may help you stop dry eye symptoms. In addition it is important to avoid smoke, animal dander, and other airborne irritants that could compromise healthy tear production. Also, stay hydrated as dry eye could result from dehydration as well.