Dry Eyes -- Causes and Top 10
Natural Remedies
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Last updated January 21, 2017 (originally published April 23, 2011)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Every few seconds we moisturize our eyes. When we blink, the
glands around our eyes produce tears to keep us seeing clearly
and comfortably. Tears aren’t simply water. Tears also contain
oils, mucus, antibodies and proteins to help resist infection. When
there is an imbalance in the tear system, you can experience dry
eyes. Dry eye syndrome --- technically known as
"keratoconjunctivitis sicca" --- is a problem with the tear film that
normally keeps your eyes moist and fresh. According to Prevent
Blindness America, 6 million women and 3 million men in America
have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eyes. Other studies,
such as a 2003 study from National Yang Ming University in
Taiwan that as many as 33% of people may suffer from dry eyes.

What Are The Symptoms of Dry Eyes?

Your eyes may not exactly feel “dry” but irritated and
uncomfortable. Dry eyes are often accompanied by a gritty
sensation or the feeling that you have something stuck in your
eye. When you suffer from dry eyes you may also experience a
sensitivity to light, itching and red eyes.

Strangely, people with dry eyes sometimes have tears running
down their cheeks. These people still have dry eyes – when the
eyes aren’t lubricated, they send distress signals for more tears.
But the tears don’t have lubricating powers and don’t coat the
eyes with a protective coverage. The symptoms of dry eyes are
irritating and painful. Can you cure dry eyes? Which foods or
other natural remedies help dry eyes?

What Are The Causes of Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes occur when your tear system isn’t functioning properly
but they can also be caused by conditions and situations that dry
the tear film.

  • Cold Temperatures. According to a 2011 study from
    University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, cold
    temperatures cause the meibum, an oily substance in the
    tear film, to become too thick and stiff to spread onto the
    eye surface, resulting in dry eyes. A temperature below 30
    degrees  resulted in worsened symptoms of dry eyes.

  • Air conditioners and wind. Air-conditioning systems, heating
    and windy conditions outdoors can cause dry eyes.

  • Medications. Certain medications such as antihistamines,
    antidepressants and the birth control pill can also cause the

  • Diseases. Diseases that affect your ability to make tears,
    such as Sjogren's syndrome, auto-immune diseases,
    rheumatoid arthritis and collagen vascular diseases can
    create dry eyes. Also blepharitis, an inflammation of the
    eyelids, is associated with dry eyes.

  • Contact Lenses. If you wear contact lenses, you may find
    your dry eyes become worse and restrict the amount of time
    you can use your lenses. About 50% of all contact lens
    users have dry eyes, according to a 2008 study from the
    College of Optometry of The Ohio State University.

  • Age. You’re more likely to suffer from dry eyes as you get
    older, because when you’re older you make less tears.
    According to the UK’s National Health Service, dry eyes
    affect around 7% of people in their 50's and 15% of people
    in their 70's.

  • Menopause. Women going through menopause are at risk of
    dry eyes.

Are dry eyes dangerous? Many people think dry eyes are just a
minor annoyance. But dry eyes can sometimes cause
conjunctivitis or small ulcers on the cornea. Dry eyes can be
painful and they are certainly distressing. When you have dry
eyes for a long period of time you will have difficulty reading,
driving and carrying out many other vision-related tasks we take
for granted. Dry eyes are often treated with artificial, chemical
tears, but are there any natural remedies or lifestyle changes that
can help? We’ve taken a close look at recent scientific research
and come up with the following remedies.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Dry Eyes

1. Omega-3 Fats Treat Dry Eyes

Eating a diet high in omega-3 fats can help you prevent dry eyes.

Why? Experts aren’t sure but omega-3 fats may help you
produce tears, and they reduce inflammation in the eyes.

According to a 2011 study from The University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, supplementation with
omega-3 fatty acids raised average tear production and tear
volume in people suffering from dry eyes.

Participants received a daily dose of fish oil for 90 days. Omega-3
fatty acids are better received from food than supplements – fish
oil can have unpleasant after-effects. Stock up on two portions of
oily fish a week like mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines or fresh

Tuna is particularly effective for dry eyes. A 2005 study from
Brigham and Women's Hospital and Schepens Eye Research
Institute found consuming foods high in omega-3s such as tuna
reduces your risk of dry eyes by 68 percent.  Five servings a
week of tuna were used in the study to produce this outstanding

Be careful that, as you increase the amount of omega-3 in your
diet, that you don't erase all those gains by increasing omega-6.

Omega-6 is the
anti-omega-3.  A higher ratio of omega-6 fatty
acids – found in animal fats and meat – may increase the risk of
dry eye syndrome. You should also avoid sunflower oil and corn
oil because they are high in omega-6.

In addition to eating fish, you can increase your levels of omega-
3 by using canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts and
chickens fed with feed rich in omega-3 fatty acids. (Read more
about whether
krill oil is even better than fish oil for your health.)

Flaxseed Oil For The Treatment of Dry Eyes

Flaxseed oil is often recommended for preventing and treating
the symptoms of dry eyes because it is high in omega-3 fatty

Taken orally, flaxseed oil can help relive inflammation associated
with dry eye syndrome. A 2007 study by researchers at the
University of Brazil found treatment with 1 or 2 g of flaxseed oil a
day reduced the inflammation and symptoms of dry eyes in
patients with
Sjögren's syndrome.

Does Evening Primrose Oil Help Dry Eyes?

Another oil rich in essential fatty acids is evening primrose  
(Oenothera biennis).

In one study (1980, by Horrobin and Campbell entitled “Sjogren’
s Syndrome and the Sicca Syndrome: the Role of Prostaglandin
E1 Deficiency. Treatment with Essential Fatty Acids and Vitamin
C”), a combination of evening primrose oil, Vitamin B6 and
Vitamin C brought substantial improvement in dry eye symptoms.

The study, admittedly small, looked at a group of 17 patients who
suffered from severe dry eyes.

And in a 2008 study by the Contact Lens Department at Sussex
Eye Hospital, UK, evening primrose oil taken orally improved
symptoms of eye dryness in contact lens wearers and also
significantly improved the comfort of the contact lenses.

Humidifiers Help Dry Eyes

Making changes to your home environment can help stop your
eyes from drying and prevent dry eye syndrome. Use a humidifier
to moisten the air surrounding you.

If you don’t have a humidifier, spray your curtains with a light
misting of water several times a day and open the windows for a
few minutes throughout the day.

Warm Compresses for Dry Eyes

Warm, moist compresses also help dry eyes. A 2006 study from
the Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba,
Japan tested the efficacy of a warm moist air device on tear

The warm moist air device applied to the closed eyelids improved
tear production. And a 2003 study from Schepens Eye Institute,
Harvard Medical School, Boston found warm compresses
increased the thickness of the layer of tear film in patients with
dry eyes.

Watch Your Computer Habits To Improve Dry Eyes

Change your work habits and improve your office environment to
help improve dry eyes.

Minimize eye strain by making sure your computer is correctly
positioned. When you use a computer you tend to blink less
regularly, causing problems with tear production.

In fact, squinting at a computer screen can cut your number of
blinks by half according to a 2005 study from Ohio State

Take regular screen breaks and force yourself to blink more
regularly when you’re reading text or working for long periods
on screen.

Protect Your Eyes to Cut Down The Risk Of Dry Eyes

Keep your eyes protected in the environments that irritate them –
wear wraparound sunglasses, avoid smoky environments and
don’t direct car heaters, fans or hair dryers towards your eyes.

If you wear make-up, use only waterproof mascara applied to the
tips of the upper eyelashes and not to the bottom lashes.

Castor Oil Eye Drops For Dry Eyes?

One 2002 study from the Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo
Dental College, Chiba, Japan demonstrated that homogenized
castor oil eye drops improved tear stability and the spreading of
tear film across the eye as well as prevented tear evaporation.

Vitamin A Helps Reduce The Symptoms of Dry Eyes

Eating foods rich in Vitamin A, or taking supplements or eye
drops containing Vitamin A, may help keep your eyes moist. This
is according to a 2009 study from The Catholic University of
Korea, Seoul that found Vitamin A eye drops were as effective as
traditional eye drops for treating dry eye syndrome.

A good way to increase your Vitamin A intake is by eating carrots,
sweet potatoes, yams and cantaloupe melons.

N-Acetyl-L Cysteine For The Relief of Dry Eyes

When taken orally, a modified form of the dietary amino acid
cysteine called N-Acetyl-L cysteine is thought to help the body
produce important antioxidants and help treat dry eyes. A 1986
study by Walters, Rubin and Keightley entitled “A double-blind,
cross-over, study of oral N-acetylcysteine in Sjogren's syndrome”
found the supplement improved dry eye symptoms in people with
Sjogren’s syndrome.


Simply Drinking More Water Can Relieve Dry Eyes

Your tear ducts help to lubricate your eyes. But, if you are
dehydrated, several things can happen that harm your eyes. The
first damage done by dehydration is that the tear ducts run out of
water to lubricate the eyes. As a result, you wake up with dry ,
red eyes.  The second thing that can happen if you become
dehydrated is that particles of minerals which normally are moved
along by water get stuck in your tear ducts, causing painful, red,
dry eyes.

A big part of the solution is to simply drink lots more water,
especially during dinner. You need to drink enough water at
dinner because most of us stop drinking after dinner, meaning
that if we eat dinner at around 7PM, our bodies will not rehydrate
until we wake up, some 12 hours later.  That's too long for your
eyes to stay moist.  

Make a habit of drinking a tall glass of water at dinner. Keep a
smaller glass of water beside your bed to sip if you wake up.

Continue reading >> Eye Health:

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How High Blood Pressure Affects Your Eyes
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes-Lingering Health Dangers from Volcanic Ash

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7 million women and 3 million  men suffer from
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