The causes and source of dry eyes, or dry eye syndrome, can differ. Dry eyes are caused by either insufficient amounts of tears or by tears that lack one of their three main compounds: water, nutrient oils and mucus. Tears are saline, oil and mucus filled and they clear the eye of imperfections and help fight bacteria. Tears are important. People with dry eyes must replace tears or help sustain the tear ducts. The water in tears, as we know, does the bulk of the work. The salt water clears dirt and dust from the eyes. The oils and fats actually spread the water across the eye and cover the entire cornea.
Dry eyes can be hereditary, or traced to a number of health conditions, including hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, or damage. Fortunately, natural remedies can help assist in balanced tear production, despite its many sources. While no one person is the same—and dry eyes can be sustained for many reasons—supplementing either the vitamins you may lack, or the ingredients for optimal tear production, can at least increase tears and reduce dry eye symptoms.
Read on to see some of the best natural remedies for dry eye symptoms…
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Both omega-3s and omega-6s contain the oils that may help tear production, or help the tears you possess perform better. Additionally, these fatty acids neutralize harmful chemicals and reduce swelling in the tear ducts that may be obstructing tear production.
Both can be taken in capsule form, but many foods come loaded with both fatty acids.
Omega-3 rich foods include:
- Oily fish—Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines all contain omega-3s
- Bean oils—Beans and seeds that produce oils, like soy, flax, walnuts and palm nuts, all contain omega-3s.
- Some eggs—Some eggs have been shown to contain omega-3s in their egg yolks. Regardless, egg yolks contain many of the vitamins that could be lacking in an adult with dry eyes.
Foods with omega-6s include:
- Vegetable oils—Vegetable oils, including sunflower, corn, safflower, poppy seed and grape seed contain omega-6.
- Soy—Soybean and cooked or processed soy products—as in milk, or other meat and dairy supplements—all retain omega-6.
- Eggs—Eggs and egg products like mayonnaise fall into this category.
- Seeds—all of the seeds found in various vegetable oils also possess omega-6.
- Nuts—pine nuts, butternuts and walnuts have both varieties of fatty acids.
These are just some of a long list of products with these common, yet essential, fatty acids.
New studies show that as many as a third of all adults can stimulate tear production with caffeine. In this test study, about as many adults saw greatly increased tear production after consuming caffeine. Because dry eye is such a common problem worldwide, this discovery could offer immediately relief to most adults, very quickly.
Of course, caffeine can be found naturally in many foods, without the need to supplement caffeine in your diet. Coffee is the best-known source of caffeine, but here listed are other suggestions:
- Black tea
- Milk (some)
- Yogurt (some)
- Dark chocolate
Test no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day—the recommended serving—to see if the remedy alleviates dry eyes.
Many sources claim that castor oil, delivered to the eye with a dropper once daily, helped to remedy dry eyes by replacing many of the same components as tears. Other sources claim that, after a few weeks, their dry eyes greatly reduced—or disappeared—altogether. Make sure to seek sterile castor oil, as oils in excess can often produce bacteria. Rinse castor oil thoroughly with water and gently massage the eyelid after leaving on the lid for several minutes. Some studies additionally purport that castor oil, over time, helps to improve vision deficiencies in stressed eyes.
Herbs and Spices
Many herbs and spices possess healing properties that add nutrients to, and reduce irritation from, many parts of the body. Some of these herbal remedies reduce inflammation due to dry eye, while others help increase tear production. Use the herbs listed below in conjunction with other remedies for stronger results.
- Turmeric—The active ingredient curcumin in turmeric reduces swelling and redness and cools irritated eyes.
- Paprika—Paprika increases vitamin A production in your system, for dry eyes that are caused by vitamin A deficiencies. Check to make sure you don’t lack vitamins as a viable cause of dry eyes.
- Mint—The menthol in mint cures irritation, like turmeric, and facilitate moisture in the eye.
- Chamomile—Chamomile works in exactly the same way as the mint, but with different chemicals and, for some, even better results. Mint best treats redness, while chamomile shines in replenishing tear loss.
The spices should be diluted in warm milk, almond milk or water prior to dabbing onto your eyes with a washcloth. Some have seen success in simply eating these spices in their diet. Both herbs can be brewed and soaked into a warm compress. Wash both remedies away with room temperature water when finished.
Dry eyes, or dry eye syndrome/disease, create symptoms that don’t harm the common adult insomuch as greatly annoy and irritate with their longevity. Whether dry eyes were caused by eyestrain, bright sunlight, or a chronic disorder, dry eyes can make the afflicted feel equally upset and frustrated. Natural remedies can reduce these itching, burning symptoms and greatly improve the day-to-day of the person with dry eyes.
Remember: warmth, including warm compresses or warm moisture, helps the remedies to alleviate dry eye symptoms. Consider infusing steam with the herbal remedies, boiling water with the ingredients included and letting the steam—provided it isn’t scalding—waft into your eyes. Or, absorb the warm brewed liquids with a cloth and hold to the eye. For remedies not eaten and gathered over time, these can help reside symptoms on an immediate basis and provide faster relief. Then, consume vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to help give your body the nutrients it needs to increase its tear production.
Do you deal with dry eyes? What causes your symptoms and what cures will you try?