Dry eyes, just as the name suggests, is a condition that refers to eyes that don not produce enough tears. It is interesting to note that even when you are full of joy, your eyes are still, in fact, full of tears. Tears do not only get produced in moments of turmoil.They are a natural part of the eyes’ function, and their purpose is to keep the eyes moist and prevent dryness. The composition of the tears also lubricates the eyes and allows normal functioning. Additionally, tears help get rid of foreign objects that get into the eye.
To understand why the production of tears is important, consider the different compounds that make up a tear drop: water, natural oils, antibodies and mucus. Each of these has a specific function that contributes to the preservation of the eye structure and the integrity of its function. The water present in tears is used for moisturization purposes, while the oils lubricate the eyes and allow easy eye movement.The mucus on the other hand, allows the tears to spread evenly on the eye surface and the antibodies are tasked with preventing infections. These functions make tears an integral part of healthy eyes. The tear glands that produce these tears are located around the eye.
When one suffers from dry eyes, it means that the tear system is not operating as it should. This condition is sometimes referred to as dry eye syndrome. Some of the symptoms characterized by the syndrome include a burning sensation in the eyes, the formation of stringy mucus in the eyes, increased light sensitivity and blurred vision. Many people with dry eyes will also experience eye fatigue, and will usually wake up with their eyelids stuck together. Some of the risk factors for dry eyes include underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, the use of certain medication, surgical procedures on the eye as well as allergies. IF left untreated, dry eyes are predisposed to infections and damage to the eye’s surface. Below are simple home remedies that can be used to treat the condition naturally.
1. Warm Compress:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A soft towel, a bowl of hot water and cotton wool. Thermometer (optional).
One of the simplest ways to deal with dry eyes is to use a warm compress. The heat produced by the compress improves the flow of blood to the area around the eye, and this is thought to encourage the production of tears in the tear glands. In cases where the dry eyes are the result of environmental factors (such as high altitude, exposure to hot winds and too much screen time), the warm compress helps reduce irritation and eases eye fatigue. You will need a soft towel for this remedy (preferably one that is lint-free to avoid introducing irritants to the dry eyes). In the absence of the towel, sterile cotton wool may be used as a substitute.
- Soak the towel or cotton wool in the hot water (but not too hot to cause scalding). If you have a thermometer, check to ensure that the temperature does not exceed 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hold the wet wool/towel over closed eyelids for 5 minutes at a go, all the while massaging gently.
- Repeat step 2 above once more while the wool/towel is still hot. If it cools down, re-wet it and apply the remedy.
- Follow this up with rinsing your eyes using warm water.
- Use this remedy at least twice daily until you notice an improvement in the function of the eyes.
2. Castor Oil:
Time Required: 5-10 Min
What You Need: Pure organic castor oil and an eye dropper.
Use castor oil to effectively treat dry eyes, thanks to its amazing healing properties. Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory that provides relief from eye irritation and itching. This compound present in the oil has also been shown to ease the burning sensation that accompanies dry eyes.
Studies conducted in this subject show that the topical application of this oil also helps prevent the rapid evaporation of tears from the eye surface. In the presence of ricinoleic acid, the eyes experience tear stability, largely because the oil helps lubricate the eyes and ensure the even spreading of tears across the eye surface. Follow the simple steps below to use castor oil in the natural treatment of dry eyes.
NOTE: the castor oil recommended for this remedy is organic castor oil which is free from hexane compounds.
- Use the dropper to suck some of the castor oil and place one drop in each eye.
- Blink your eyelids severally to help spread the oil and allow its healing properties.
- Use castor oil twice daily to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
3. Blinking Exercises:
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: A conscious decision to do the blinking exercises.
Naturally, blinking helps moisten the eyes by encouraging the flow of tears to the sides of the eyes. Additionally, blinking increases the amount of blood flow to the eyes and this reduces the levels of eye fatigue. As a matter of fact, regular blinking allows nutrients to reach the eye surface, and this ensures the eyes remain moist and healthy. Owing to the many benefits of regular blinking, people with dry eyes may benefit from blinking exercises.
NOTE: In cases where dry eyes are the result of too much screen time, whether with the TV, computer or mobile phone, regular blinking prevents eye strain which is known to cause irritation of the eyes.
- Shut your eyes and count to 3.
- Squeeze the eyelids tightly and count to 3 once more.
- Open your eyes and count to 3 again. The purpose of doing this is to help moisten and cleanse the eyes by increasing the tears that cover the eye surface.
- Perform these blinking exercises at least three times each hour for a fortnight. During this period, you should notice an improvement as far as eye dryness is concerned.
- For regular screen users, the 20/20/20 rule is applicable. This general rule states that for every 20 minutes of using the screen, take a glance at an object that is 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. This significantly reduces eye strain and allows dry eyes to heal faster.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh cucumber and cold water.
Harness the healing effects of cucumber when you need to treat dry eyes naturally. The cucumber’s cooling effects get rid of eye fatigue, and are integral in soothing the muscles and glands around the eyes, among them, the tear glands. What’s more, massaging the eyes using fresh cucumber slices encourages blood circulation to the skin around the eyes. The end-result is a revitalization that works wonders for dry eyes. Prepare the cucumber and use it as indicated in the steps below.
- Clean and cut the cucumber into slices.
- Lie down, close your eyes and place two thick slices of the cucumber on top.
- Gently press in the cucumber for a minute or two.
- You may discard the cucumber slices when the cooling sensation dissipates.
- Use this remedy at least thrice daily.
5. Chamomile Tea:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of dried chamomile, 2 cups of boiling hot water, a strainer, ice cubes and sterile cotton balls.
Chamomile tea is an excellent herbal option for the natural treatment of dry eyes. The tea is rich in anti-inflammatory properties that not only deal with the inflammation, but also help increase the moisture present in the eyes. The cooling herb also has the ability to soothe and ease fatigued eyes, which certainly comes in handy for anyone with dry eyes. Use this rejuvenating remedy to treat dry eye syndrome.
- Place the dried chamomile in the hot water and allow steeping for at least 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and transfer the liquid to a separate bowl.
- Place this bowl on a tray of ice cubes to allow it to cool as the hot solution may cause injuries to the skin around the eye.
- Once the solution has cooled, soak the cotton balls in the chamomile tea.
- Shut your eyes and place the wet cotton wool on the eyes.
- Leave the wet wool on the eyes for some 15 minutes.
- When the cotton balls start to dry up, re-soak them and repeat the procedure once more.
- Use this remedy at least twice daily to get relief from dry eye syndrome.
6. Cold Spoons:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Cold/refrigerated spoons.
One of the simplest go-to remedies in the natural treatment of dry eyes is the use of cold spoons. Refrigerating the spoons allows the metal to cool the skin around the eyes. This is especially effective for tired eyes as the low temperatures allow blood vessels to constrict. This also has the advantage of reducing redness in the eyes as well as reducing the puffiness around fatigued eyes. Use this simple remedy by following the steps outlined below.
- Refrigerate two metal spoons for 5 minutes.
- Apply the cold spoons on each eye and let the spoons remain for a couple of minutes.
- Once the spoons get warm, simply re-refrigerate and repeat the steps above.
- Do this until you get relief from eye fatigue caused by dry eye syndrome.
7. Mint Leaves:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: A dozen fresh mint leaves, water in a pan and a clean towel/ cotton wool.
Mint leaves are extremely effective in the natural treatment of dry eyes as they contain menthol. Exposure to menthol in the leaves triggers the production of tears in the eyes. These tears moisten and cover the surface of the eye, preventing irritation and reducing the chances of developing an eye infection. Mint also leaves the eyes feeling rejuvenated, which is a perfect solution for tired eyes. Use mint leaves as shown in the steps below.
- Sort and clean the mint leaves well before transferring them to a pan containing water.
- Boil the mixture for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
- Let the leaves steep for at least 20 minutes. This period also allows the solution to cool down before application.
- Soak the clean piece of cloth or cotton wool in the solution.
- Apply the wet cloth/wool on closed eyes and massage for a few minutes.
- Let the remedy sit on the eyes for 5 more minutes and then rinse using the remaining mint solution.
- Use this remedy as often as you need to until the condition clears.
8. Coriander Leaves:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Coriander leaves, grinder and a dropper.
Coriander, sometimes referred to as dhania, is a popular herb in the culinary field. In addition to this, coriander is a power house as far as providing nutrients for proper eye health is concerned. The herb is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and antioxidants, all of which contribute to their healing properties when used for dry eyes. The Vitamin A and beta-carotenes present are essential for good vision.
The vitamin C on the other hand, boosts the immune system and helps prevent eye infections from progressing. Other benefits of using coriander juice to treat dry eyes include its ability to relieve eye strain and eliminate the sensation of a foreign body stuck in the eye.
- Sort and wash the coriander leaves before transferring them to the grinder.
- Grind the leaves in order to get the coriander juice which is what you will need for this remedy.
- Flush the dropper using boiling water.
- Suck some of the coriander juice using the clean dropper and place two drops in the affected eyes.
- Shut your eyelids and blink severally to spread the coriander juice evenly.
- Use this remedy twice daily until your eyes get better.
9. Massage the Eyes:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Preferred oil (coconut/almond/olive oils) and a water bath.
Massaging the eyes is a simple technique which you can use to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. This is because the gentle pressure applied stimulates the tear glands and also improves blood circulation to the eyes. When used to manage eye fatigue, massage helps relax the muscles around the eye. To prevent friction on the skin around the eyes, it is best to use warm oil. The directions below outline this simple procedure.
- Place the oil in a bowl and then in a water bath to facilitate indirect heating.
- Place a few drops of the warm oil on your fingertips.
- Close your eyelids and apply the warm oil.
- Massage for 5 minutes, making sure you do not exert excessive pressure.
- There is no need to rinse the oil as it is beneficial for the skin around the eyes.
- Use this remedy twice daily.
10. Practical Tips to Manage Dry Eyes:
- Increase your daily fluid intake to prevent dehydration as this is one of the causes of dry eyes. This is particularly important if you live in a hot and dry climate zone, or lead a very active lifestyle.
- Take frequent breaks to prevent straining the eyes due to prolonged screen time.
- It helps to wear wraparound sunglasses that prevent wind from drying the eye surface.
- Do not sleep with eye makeup to allow the skin around the eyes to breathe. Eyeliner can easily clog the glands located at the bottom of the eyelashes, so be diligent in night makeup removal. In the same breath, do not use expired eye makeup.
- Wash your eyes often to provide adequate moisture for the eyes.
Make sure you see an eye specialist if you experience intense symptoms even after using the home remedies. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include redness and swelling around the eye, discharge from the eye and continued dryness even after using the remedies for a period of time.