Most of the recommendations for this list are taken straight out of our Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment book.
Before we jump into the best treatments for dry eye, I want to discuss Pareto’s principle. According to Wikipedia, the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
What this means is that if you focus on the 20% of dry eye treatment that will make most of the difference, instead of focusing on the 80% that produce miniscule results, you would be MUCH better off and have less dry eye.
For example, we help moderate a group that we started a few years ago called the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community on Facebook. It is now over 7,000 members and growing. Click here to join!
So many people in this group ask about the best eye drops for dry eyes but never focus on the small but important things that can truly change their eye health for the better.
What if instead, you decided to focus on the CAUSE of dry eye, which is inflammation in 99% of cases. If you focus your time and effort on the treatment solutions that will produce 80% of your improvement, then you will easily begin feeling better and enjoying life without all of the other treatments, in many cases.
The most popular dry eye treatment products are only going to give you 20% of the results you seek. If you focus on our treatments for dry eye below and start with step one, then move on to step two once step one is a habit, then move on to step three when step two is a habit, then you will notice a drastic improvement.
With that being said, DO NOT RELY ON YOUR DOCTOR TO CURE YOUR DISEASE. This is up to YOU! You can choose today to start eating better, exercising daily, and healing your body from the inside out using the treatments we recommend.
If you are interested in Dr. Jenna and myself guiding you through this, join the Dry Eye Inner Circle to go through our eight-week Dry Eye Bootcamp Challenge. Click here to apply for a membership.
1. Eyelid Hygiene
Treatment for dry eye should always begin with a proper eyelid hygiene regimen. This can be accomplished by using our Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser twice daily. Hypochlorous acid is great for cleaning the skin and mucous membranes and for keeping them healthy.
Hypochlorous acid is naturally produced by the body to fight microorganisms, and this solution is no different. It's so important to ensure that you're cleansing your eyelids and keeping all of the debris, makeup, bacteria, and allergens out of your eyes to prevent dry eye symptoms.
2. Hydration and an Anti-Inflammatory, Plant-Based Diet to Decrease Inflammation
ALL disease should start with drinking plenty of water daily. Seventy-five percent (75%!!!) of us walk around dehydrated. You should be carrying around a reusable water bottle with you at all times (try to avoid plastic water bottles whenever you can!)
Follow the motto, if you think, drink! This means that every time you think about drinking water, you should take a drink. We have a survival mechanism that tells us we are starting to get thirsty before we even do.
Embracing Foods That Heal
Food can be the ultimate source of healing or the ultimate destruction of your body (think about all of the chemicals in the junk food you sometimes consume). Once you clear away the junk that’s clogging your body from years of poor diet, you will unclog your mind as well. You’ll be able to tap into your healthiest and happiest you.
By the way, this junk food and poor diet that you might be eating is NOT your fault. It is the fault of the government, big pharmaceutical companies, and factory farms, which have deep pockets to fund campaigns to make you think that what you are eating is healthy.
So where does this transformation begin?
All of this starts with plants!
Plants help balance your hormones, maintain a stable blood sugar and pressure, and generally fuel all of our systems in a cleaner, more efficient way. Read more about 21 healthy foods to lose weight, fight inflammation, and heal your body from the inside, and print off your green smoothie charts and healthy foods chart here.
3. Avoid BAD Meat to Decrease Inflammation
Don't worry...I'm not telling you to become a vegetarian or vegan (although this may be a great option for some)!
The most commonly cited causes of disease are lack of oxygen, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc…). There are numerous culprits that can lead to any of these four causes and they can include: animals, dairy, sugar, and toxic chemicals.
These foods can increase estrogen levels, flood the body with toxic chemicals, and carry life threatening bacteria.
Why You Should Give Up BAD Meat…
Our plant-based diet leans heavy on eating mostly vegetables, legumes (beans), and fruits, but eating ORGANIC, GRASS-FED, leaner meats like chicken and WILD cause fish on an occasional basis is okay as well.
We would like everyone to reduce their meat consumption to once a day, preferably at dinner, once a week is able, or once a month/not at all (best). If you decide to give it up completely, that will bring you the best results. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to maintain this, which is why we recommend eating it occasionally if your body craves it.
4. Avoid Dairy to Decrease Inflammation
Dairy has a very high allergy rate, according to WebMD, and an estimated 30 million Americans have a sensitivity by age 20. This is an immune response to the lactose in milk which can develop rashes, bloating, gas, trouble breathing, and other allergy symptoms. Also, conventional dairy contains growth hormones and antibiotics due to animal treatment explained above.
Humans are the only animals on the planet that consume another species’ milk. Cow’s milk is a fairly recent addition to our diets, and milk protein is hard for humans to digest, if they can digest it at all, which triggers an autoimmune attack and inflammation in the body, which includes dry eyes.
5. Avoid Added Sugar to Decrease Inflammation
How do you feel after consuming that sugary cookie, cake, or donut? I feel like garbage and I’m sure you do too. Headaches, mood swings, depression, and more are symptoms of sugar intake. Sugar causes inflammation, eads to weight gain, leads to diabetes, and is linked to cancer.
I challenge you to throw away all the white, brown, and powdered sugar in your cabinet, along with all the foods that contain these harmful granules. After that, do not eat anything with added sugar for a week. If you get a craving, reach for a nice bowl of ripe organic berries or better yet, make some banana “nice” cream.
6. Avoid Processed Foods to Decrease Inflammation
Any food that comes in a box, bag, or can, which has a mile long list of ingredients, that can sit unrefrigerated for days, is not good for you. If you have trouble pronouncing an ingredient, it is most likely not good for you.
Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, became popular because they kept cakes, doughnuts, french fries, and cookies fresh longer and feeling less greasy. But these artificial oils are just a processed vegetable oil that is solidified. These lead to an increase in cholesterol and inflammation. Common culprits that you have heard of are margarine and Crisco.
7. Avoid GMOs, Pesticides, and Fertilizers to Decrease Inflammation
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are simply foods or organisms that have been altered from their natural state to help combat heavy pesticide use, extreme temperatures, resist disease, and/or to battle insects. GMO labeling is required in 64 countries, but the United States and Canada do not require it because of corporate pressure.
The most common GMO plants are corn, soybeans, cotton, potato, alfalfa, canola, papaya, squash, apple, and sugar beet. According to TIME magazine more than 90% of all soybean, cotton, and corn acreage in the US is used to grow genetically engineered crops.
8. Increase HEALTHY Oil Consumption and Eliminate Bad Oils to Decrease Inflammation
Water, oxygen, minerals, and amino acids (parts of protein) are the primary parts of the inside of the cell. This is where life-sustaining processes mainly occur.
Cell membranes are the “walls” around the city that allow things in and out, while protecting the cells. These cell membranes are becoming unhealthy by the unhealthy oils you are eating. This includes trans fat (likely from the Western diet of fried and processed foods) and vegetable oils (corn, soybean, canola).
These unhealthy oils are resistive to oxygen and therefore your cells are starved of oxygen, leading to a chronic inflammatory state.
9. Increasing Vitamins and Minerals
Eating vitamins and minerals through whole foods is always a better option than taking a supplement. A supplement is there to do just as the name suggests... supplement, or enhance something else when added to it. You should take supplements as an addition to an already healthy diet as described above.
Supplements can be super confusing. There are supplements for weight loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, sex drive, dry eye, and pretty much everything else under the sun. The goal of this guide is to point you in the right direction as to what is needed to live a full balanced diet. Stay away from the gimmicky supplements for weight loss, fat burning, and other “in the moment” supplements your friends or coworkers tell you about.
10. Move Your Body With Exercise
Treatment for ALL disease should start with drinking plenty of water and exercising daily. According to the CDC, 80-90% of adults and teens do not exercise. This is crazy!
The biggest problem we see as practitioners is that the advice we give our patients about diet and exercise is completely ignored and patients just want to feel relief from the symptoms of the disease. A disease is your body’s way of telling you that you are doing something wrong (most likely following a Western diet and failing to exercise).
11. Eliminate Toxins in Your House
Toxins are everywhere in our lives. We are constantly exposed, either directly or indirectly, to toxins. Toxins in our water, food, air, home, and work are constantly bombarding us whether we know it or not.
When a toxin is intense enough, or you’re exposed to a large dose, it can cause a severe enough reaction in your body that we notice it. Toxins can cause reactions such as allergies, fever, dry eyes, eczema, asthma, vomiting, shaking, skin hives, rashes, trouble breathing, and other forms of inflammation.
12. Eliminate Medications that Cause Dry Eyes
Many of the medications we take for chronic diseases have side-effects. They don’t always hit everyone, but if you are regularly taking more than one, the side effects can begin to add up. One common side effect is dry eyes!
Have you noticed your eyes becoming dry, feeling like there are scratches on them, or just that you need to blink several times to get a little moisture going? The root cause may lie in your medicine cabinet. Here are several common drugs that can cause dry eye symptoms.
13. Stop Smoking
Do we need to say it again? Stop smoking! Smoking affects dry eye in two different ways. The most devastating way is through the inhalation of numerous toxins and chemicals that flood your bloodstream with free radicals, which, as discussed above, increases your risk for dry eye, heart disease, and cancer. Secondly, the actual smoke is an eye irritant as well and increases the evaporation rate of your tears.
14. Avoid Excessive Phone and Computer Use
There are many causes of eye fatigue, but a huge culprit is the technology we're surrounded with daily. Working on a computer or even on your smartphone throughout the day can make your eyes much more tired. This occurs because, when you go to look at something small and close to you, the ciliary muscle inside your eye contracts and changes the focusing system of your eye to allow you to view up close. This small muscle is so important because it controls your ability to focus far away, up close, and at all distances in between!
Learn more about eye strain and how to prevent it here. Also, if you're in a dry environment, such as an office or anywhere in the desert, make sure to purchase a humidifier for your space. Click here to find out our top 11 humidfiers for dry eyes.
15. Go to the Chiropractor
To learn the 11 Reasons to visit your chiropractor for an adjustment, click here (article coming soon)
16. Believe in Yourself!
This might seem like it would never help you with your dry eyes, but you'd be incorrect! Have you ever considered the role of your mind in healing your dry eyes? Since it may be much easier to simply take a pill or even make diet changes to control dry eyes, we often forget about the power of belief and the way we interact with the world around us.
Past studies have shown the power in the placebo effect, meaning that the patient will feel relief even when no medication is truly given (the effects are much greater when they believe they have actually been given the medication). It is truly fascinating that the effects of a drug are greater when the subject actually believes they're receiving the drug (or they see it being administered) vs. when they are unaware of the drug being delivered.
With that said, belief in a higher purpose or self has helped people heal from disease more than those who do not believe at all. We are of Christian faith, but regardless of your religion, you can benefit from prayer, meditation, and just truly believing in yourself that you CAN heal your disease. BECAUSE YOU CAN!
17. Get Some Sleep
Sleep is one of the best ways for your body to restore and heal itself from all the damage we put it through, throughout the day. This is a time for your body to recover from the constant toxic exposure. When we sleep we have more energy for creating new, healthier cells (if following a plant-based diet) to replace the unhealthy cells that no longer work as efficiently.
Really work to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night. Sleep helps restore the tear layer and repair the surface of the eyes. Most people don’t prioritize sleep like they should.
Click here to read about 11 Harmful Effects of Sleep Deprivation and Click here to learn about 13 Best Ways to Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Better. (Articles coming soon)
18. Reduce Stress
Easier said than done? But so important!! Cortisol is an absolutely essential part of your normal health and function, and it controls blood sugar, helps regulate metabolism, reduces inflammation, assists with memory, and controls blood pressure.
However, if this stress if present over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to more serious health problems. Aging more quickly, decreased immune system, and higher disease prevalence are just a few of the problems that can occur due to long term stress.
19. Forming a Dry Eye Treatment Routine - The Other 20%
Now that we have focused on the 80% that will produce the most results (19 Best Dry Eye Treatments Above), let’s look at the other 20% that will still help. Make this a part of your routine!
Check out the video of Dr. Jenna’s nightly routine. Also download our Dry Eye Checklist to print out and keep with you to make this part of your routine
Dr. Jenna Zigler’s nightly routine
- Wash entire body, hair, and face with Heyedrate Tea Tree Oil Soap
- Remove any eye makeup with oil-based makeup remover, like Heyedrate Eye Makeup Remover
- Wash face with tea tree oil soap, like Heyedrate Tea Tree Oil Soap, and pat dry
- Apply a warm compress, like Heyedrate Warm Compress, to the eyes for ten minutes
- Eyelid massage and meibomian gland expression
- Apply two to four sprays of a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser, like Heyedrate Lid & Lash Cleanser, to a cotton ball/round
- Wipe in a horizontal motion across both upper and lower eyelid five times
- Allow Heyedrate Lid & Lash Cleanser to dry, no need to rinse off
This routine has allowed Dr. Jenna to use eye drops very rarely. When she does use a drop she uses Oasis Tears Plus preservative-free eye drops and Lumify on occasions when her eyes are red and she needs to be in public or on camera.