Top 3 Home Remedies To Treat Dry Eyes Naturally
Dry eyes are a result of lack of enough lubrication and moisture in the eyes. It is a common health condition with about 50% of the world's population experiencing some symptoms of dry eyes at some point in their life. It can be a temporary or a chronic long-term condition.
Dry eyes can occur due to some underlying medical conditions or increasing age or environmental factors. Very often environmental factors are not the root causes of the dry eyes but only the triggers which make the condition worse. So keep in mind that your end goal is to identify the root cause and eliminate it while keeping safe from the triggers that worsens your dry eye symptoms.
Dry Eye Syndrome - Symptoms and Causes
People with dry eyes report one or all of the following symptoms -
- Red, itchy, stingy, scratchy or burning eyes.
- Stringy (like a very thin thread) mucus in / around eyes.
- Eyes sensitive to light, wind or smoke.
- Heavy and fatigued eyes.
- A sensation of having something in eyes.
- Blurry eyes.
- Alternating cycles of excess tears and dry eyes.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Any decrease in the quantity / quality of the tear film of our eyes is known as Dry Eye Syndrome. A tear film consists of three components each of which is produced by different glands. When any one of the glands is underfunctioning, the quantity / quality of the tear film will be compromised and our eyes will start feeling dry, itchy and / or stingy.
These three components of tear film are -
- Oil - provides lubrication and keeps tear film from evaporating too soon.
- Water - provides moisture.
- Mucus - helps spread the tears evenly on the eye surface.
There are different categories of dry eyes, depending on which component is affected -
- Lack of Oil -> Evaporative Dry Eye / Meibomian Gland Dysfunction - Root cause is the lack of oil in tears. Caused by meibomian glands malfunction. This is the most common type of dry eye syndrome.
- Lack of Water -> Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye - Root cause is the lack of water in tears. Caused by lacrimal glands malfunction.
- Lack of Mucus -> Mucin Deficient Dry Eye - Root cause is the lack of mucus in tears. Caused by goblet cells malfunction.
Imbalance in the makeup of tear film can be caused by several different factors listed next. It is important that you find out the causes of your dry eyes so as to take precautions for any future occurrence.
What are the causes of Dry Eye?
Dry eyes can be caused internally - by some underlying medical condition and / or externally - by environmental factors. Very often environmental factors are not the root causes of the dry eyes but only the triggers which make the condition worse.
Various autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome (dry eyes, dry mouth and dry nose with minimal mucous secretion), Candida yeast overgrowth, Lupus, Arthritis, etc.
Various other illnesses such as Viral infections, Diabetes, Thyroid, Vitamin A deficiency, etc.
Old Age or hormonal changes.
Side effect of certain medicines like antidepressants, Antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, anti depressants, etc.
Staring too long on a computer / mobilescreen and not blinking enough.
Contact lenses and eye surgeries.
Exposure to strong winds, smoke, dry air (airplane cabins and air-conditioned offices), hot air (dry heating systems and hot climates), etc.
Partially open eyes while sleeping.
Anatomical or Dermatological conditions of eyelids.
Women and old people are more likely to experience dry eyes but they can occur at any age and in any gender. In women, dry eye is more common after menopause.
Dry Eyes Treatment - Drugs Vs Natural Remedies
As seen above, there are various factors that can cause dry eyes. Before starting any treatment, it is important to know the underlying cause of dry eyes. If it is because of a disease, then the disease needs to be cured first to get lasting relief from dry eyes. For mild dryness, your doctor may prescribe artificial tears or other lubricating eye drops. The usual western medicine prescription for dry eyes is cyclosporine or Restasis, an anti-inflammatory medication, which increases tear production. In some cases your doctor may also suggest a surgery on the eye to relieve discomfort. But medications and surgeries very often resolve symptoms at one area and cause other symptoms at other areas.
So use your judgment before starting any treatment. Remember - Don't leave your dry eyes untreated. It can lead to complications like increased risk of eye infections and damage to the surface of your eyes. We recommend you to first try the natural remedies / home remedies for dry eyes and if the condition does not improve, seek medical care to avoid any complications.
No 1 Home Remedy for Dry Eyes - Castor Oil
The anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant and water retaining properties of castor oil makes it an excellent remedy for dry eyes.
The thickness and stickiness of the castor oil helps in providing adequate lubrication and coating to the tear film thus preventing eyes from getting dried. Fatty acids present in castor oil have the ability to relieve the irritation and inflammation caused by dry eyes.
Castor Oil helps in lubricating the cornea, reducing eye strain and irritation. But for some people it might create side effects such as - puffed up eyes, swelling, redness, etc. So be cautious in using it for the first time. Read the Complete Guide on Castor Oil for Dry Eyes. Here are the things to remember -
- Use only Pure, Hexane Free, Cold Pressed Castor Oil.
- Do a patch test first for ruling out the possibility of any side-effects
- Dont put oil directly inside the eye initially. Start with applying it on outer areas of eyes.
If for some reasons, castor oil is not suiting your eyes, you can use coconut oil also. Some people report coconut oil working better for their eyes.
No 2 Home Remedy for Dry Eyes - Triphala
Triphala is one of the most common and safest ingredient for treating dry eyes. There are many ways of triphala dry eye treatment -
- Triphala Eye wash - Add one spoon of triphala powder to boiling water and allow it to stand overnight. Strain the triphala water through a fine cloth to remove all solid particles. Bathe your eyes with the filtered triphala water.
- Triphala Ghrita - You can drink a solution containing water mixed with half a teaspoon of Triphala Ghrita.
- Triphala powder and honey taken orally - Mix Triphala powder with honey and ghee to make a paste and take this paste in night after food.
No 3 Home Remedy for Dry Eyes - Warm compress
Warm compress is a time consuming and labourious process but very very effective if done right.
The heat from the compress helps increase blood circulation and stimulates tear formation. It also makes the oil produced by eye glands more runny.
Take 2 clean towels, dip them in warm water (40 - 45 degree Centigrade), squeeze and put one towel over your eyes. Replace with another towel when it loses its warmth. Keep repeating this for a minimum of 6-8 minutes in order for the heat to pass through the skin, fat and other barriers and reach the glands. Do as often as possible and comfortable but at least twice a day. Do religiously for a month and observe the effects.
Dry Eyes - Prevention and Precautions
If you are prone to dry eyes, as I am since childhood (I am Vata Prakriti) , it is advisable to take some precautions -
- According to Ayurveda, Vata prakriti people are more prone to dryness - skin, eyes and internal dryness. Hence full body oil massages are recommended for them to relieve dryness.
- Avoid windy places or places with lot of air movement. Vata gets deranged when lot of air movement is present. Avoid exposure to fans, air condition, hair dryers, etc. Wear wraparound sunglasses or those with side shields to protect your eyes from drying out.
- Limit computer use and give rest to your eyes frequently. A great way to rest your eyes is Palming (Deep Eye Relaxation). Rub your palms against each other to warm up your hands and cover your eyes lightly and completely with your palm.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water (2-3 liters in a day) and avoid smoking.
- Eat healthy foods rich in omega fatty acids.