Dry eye syndrome afflicts approximately 7% of the US population1. If you suffer from symptoms associated with eye dryness, you are not alone. There are approximately 22.7 million people who may know how you feel, and many do not know what they can do to keep their eyes clean, healthy, happy, and moist.
Healthy eyes are protected by a layer of tears that lubricates the surface of the eye. If your tear film is compromised this can cause dry eye and irritation such as light sensitivity, burning, itching, tears, irritated eyelids, red conjunctiva, eye tiredness, or blurry vision.
How do you get dry eye?
We are spending more time on our computers, tablets, phones, and other digital devices, which can decrease the frequency of our blinks. Additionally, a lack of adequate tears or those that evaporate too quickly can cause dry eye. Some common trigger factors include age, environment, certain medical conditions such as diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome, and LASIK surgery.
Contact lenses, especially soft ones, could increase tear evaporation and increase irritation, infection due to protein deposits and pain.2 Dryness of the ocular surface is the main reason for discomfort while wearing contact lenses.
Other environmental factors such as smoke and wind can also cause dry eye as well as certain medications (acne medicine, antidepressants, Parkinson’s medications, sleeping pills, antihistamines, birth control pills, and other hormones). Also, problems with the production of your tear film, such as blocked meibomian glands (small glands on the edge of your eyelids) can lead to dry eye.
Although dry eye can be more common in the elderly, it can occur at any age. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI) nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. People over 65 produce 60% less tears than young people. 3
Another major cause of dry eye is blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids in which they become red, irritated, and itchy – dandruff-like scales may also form on the eyelashes. This is caused by either bacteria, Demodex mites, or a skin condition, such as scalp dandruff or rosacea.
Treating dry eye
The most common and typically the first line of treatment people reach for to treat dry eye are drops or artificial tears. These work by introducing moisture into the eye to help counteract the lack of a natural tear film. But eye drops and artificial tears typically only treat your symptoms and do not address the underlying causes of dry eye. Additionally, dry eye is typically multi-faceted requiring a number of different treatments at a time, used together. The following are four natural options to help treat your dry eye.
1 – Lifestyle Changes
There are a few fairly simple changes you can make in your daily life to avoid being a dry eye victim:
- Take regular breaks from your screen. Try stepping away for two to three minutes every half hour.
- Think about blinking regularly.
- Avoid excess heat and dryness at home by using a humidifier and keep air flowing.
- Drink more water to stay hydrated! The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day.³
- Protect your eyes from the sun and wind. Wear sunglasses for activities like running, biking, or in dusty conditions.
2 – Vitamin A
Known for contributing to eye health, Vitamin A helps protect the surface of your eye (cornea). Vitamin A from animal-derived foods (beef, whole milk, cheese) is called retinol. Vitamin A can also come from certain fruits and vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, spinach) and in this form are called carotenoids. Both are said to offer eye health benefits. Vitamin A can also be found in the form of supplements, and studies show that vitamin A drops have been found effective for the treatment of dry eye.
3 – Omegas to the rescue
Omegas such as omega-3 and omega-6 are known to be anti-inflammatory. Since research suggests dry eye is related to inflammation of the ocular surface, omegas may help improve and treat the symptoms of eye dryness. Certain foods contain omegas including salmon, green vegetables, and flaxseed oil (omega-3) and sunflower oil, rapeseed, and soybean (omega-6). However, oftentimes omegas in the form of a supplement are needed as an additional source in order to be effective for dry eye.
The sea buckthorn oil is rich in omega-7, omega-3, and omega-6.
A study from Finland has found it may reduce symptoms of dry eye. The results of this study showed that sea buckthorn reduced “the maximum intensity of redness and burning symptoms in participants with dry eye.”5
Pro Tip: Mix of omega-3 and vitamin A (retinol) have shown better results in dry eye tests.6
4 –Better eyelid hygiene with 4-terpineol
Many Americans experience dry eye symptoms caused by blepharitis (a gritty or burning sensation in your eyes, excessive tearing, itching, red and swollen eyelids, dry eyes or crusting of the eyelids). But did you know that the problem may not be your eyes but rather your eyelids? Poor eyelid hygiene can actually cause dry eye and blepharitis. Better ocular hygiene is essential to keep blepharitis away and avoid a disease progression to chronic dry eye. While previously there were few options for practicing good ocular hygiene, today there are eyelid cleansers that are specially formulated to clean your eyelids.
Eyelid cleansers can be purchased online and are typically sold as either wipes or foam. Both types of eyelid cleansers can be used to keep your eyes and eyelids clean and free from debris and irritants. But you can get greater benefits with the ones containing 4-Terpineol.
4-Terpineol is an effective, natural, and soothing facial cleansing agent. As it cleans your eyelids, it leaves your skin feeling cool and refreshed.
- Cliradex is the only eyelid and face cleanser with 4-Terpineol. It’s easy to use and also easy to take with you as Cliradex wipes are individually packaged, and easily fit into a purse or pocket.
While dry eye cannot be cured, there is no reason to feel like you can’t find help or relief. Please feel free to save this article or share this with a friend or family member who suffers from dry eye. Hopefully, these four natural solutions to treat eye dryness will help you to find relief from your ocular irritation.
- Gayton, Johnny L. “Etiology, Prevalence, and Treatment of Dry Eye Disease.” Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, N.Z.) 3 (2009): 405–412. Print.
- A primer on how to best manage (or even prevent) protein deposition on contact lenses. By William J. Lapple, OD
- Water: How much should you drink every day? By Mayo Clinic Staff
- Eye benefits of vitamin A and beta-carotene By Gary Heiting, OD
- Sea buckthorn oil may ease dry eye symptoms – 28-Jun-2010 By Stephen Daniells
- Liu, A., & Ji, J. (2014). Omega-3 essential fatty acids therapy for dry eye syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 20, 1583.