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When we asked you, the consumer, what eye wellness products you were using currently, or were planning to use in 2021, we received more than 600 responses with over 30 different ways that you are managing eye health.
They run the gamut from eye drops, hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser, punctal plugs, omega-3 fatty acids, and artificial tears to warm compresses, diet, hydration, and other natural remedies. And that’s just to name a few.
While there is no universal product (how we all wish it were so) that serves every conceivable need for every sufferer on the planet—and, to be sure, the right product often depends on the symptoms at hand—the goal is frequently the same: living a normal and pain-free life that is unencumbered by our irritated eyes and eyelids.
Below we will be going over the 27 most used products for eye dryness that were surveyed (all 600+ of you), and then we go over our 19 favorite ways to better manage your eye and eyelid health. We emphasize these in order, as we recommend starting with the first one until it becomes habit before moving on to the next one on the list!
How did we come up with the results? We put a survey out on our Facebook page in 2021. The participants were almost entirely women (91%) who live in the United States (88%), with a few from Canada and the United Kingdom. The average age was 60, give or take 11 years.
86% of you suffer from dryness and irritation on a daily basis, while 15% suffer more than a few times per week. A little more than half (56%) have found some effective solutions to maintain their eye comfort.
We don’t recommend eye drops on a regular basis as they pretty much just COVER a problem instead of getting to the root cause. If you do find that they help you, limit the use to only four times per day. If you need more than that, check out our 19 favorites below.
In the survey, here is a list of all the eye drops surveyors were using:
Many people with dryness have a preservative sensitivity, so we always recommend staying away from drops with preservatives as they can cause your eyes to become more irritated.
This is an old traditional method that has been used for maintenance of healthy eyelids for quite some time.
Here is a list of the Warm Compresses used by surveyors:
The eyelids have oil glands called meibomian glands. The oil in these glands is responsible for lubricating the eye and preventing the tears from evaporating. If your tears evaporate too fast, this will lead to dryness, irritation, redness, and more.
Cleaning your eyelids is a great way to support the health of your eyelids!
Here are the top eyelid cleansers used by those surveyed:
Xiidra® (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution 5%) became FDA approved in mid-July 2016 and has been widely successful since its release.
Restasis is a prescription medication FDA approved to help make more of your own tears. It helps strengthen your body's natural ability to produce the tears it should. Restasis has been a go-to for many patients and doctors for years.
Diet plays a crucial role in the oil production of the glands. A diet higher in omega-6 fatty acids (your typical Western, American diet) will produce lower quality oils and increase inflammation, which both lead to more dryness and eye irritation.
Here are the omega-3 fish oil supplements those surveyed were taking:
Demodex eyelash mites live on humans, which is a bit alarming but it’s similar to how we have bacteria covering our bodies all the time. It’s normal, most of the time! Demodex are tiny mites that stay in or near the hair follicles. Tea tree oil can help support your eyelids in this case.
Tea tree oil products those surveyed are using:
Our FAVORITE! We were happy to see this so high on the list! We discuss this more below, click here to read that section.
Steroid eye drops work just like other steroids. They work to decrease inflammation and can be prescribed by your doctor. This is an off label use of steroids, but they often work well for what we're discussing.
Eye ointments and gels can be a lifesaver. We usually recommend using these at night, since they can blur your vision.
Here are the three most common eye gels and ointments used by those surveyed:
Meibomian gland expression, when done properly, can really help. We recommend doing it right after warm compresses. Click here read about how to do meibomian gland expression safely.
The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System is a medical device proven to improve the function of the meibomian glands in those who suffer from meibomian gland issues. The device consists of a computer console and single-use activators that are used directly on the eyelids. This is available in many eye doctor offices (check with your doctor to see if they offer this!)
Another one of our favorites! Don't let yourself get dehydrated.
These tiny plugs are inserted into the tear ducts to stop the tears from flowing out of your eyes. Instead, they force the tears into the eyes, which increases the tear film and bathes the cornea in tears.
There are quite a few uses for an antibiotic ointment on the eyes, as it can be used for many conditions. Your doctor will be able to prescribe these if you need them.
Humidifiers can be very beneficial especially in the winter when humidity drops and dryness worsens.
Blue-blocking, anti-reflective lenses prevent glare and damaging blue light from entering your eyes which may help reduce eye fatigue from working daily on a computer. Click here to check out our favorite blue light blocking glasses.
Intense Pulse Light therapy, or IPL for short, was an accidental find for eye dryness as a result of patients having it done around the eyes for rosacea. Many people noticed their eyes were feeling better. Make sure to discuss this option with your eye care provider.
More on this below, but treatment for ALL disease should start with drinking plenty of water and exercising daily. So many benefits of this one!
While artificial tears may be alright for occasional use to supplement the tears in someone with mild symptoms, autologous serum is a much better route to take in those with a more severe condition. Autologous serum is an eye drop made by separating the cellular and liquid components of a patient’s blood. This serum is a much more effective tear substitute because it contains the exact biological nutrients that are included in the patient’s own tears. There have been few studies performed on this subject, but we’ve had great success using autologous serum in our clinics.
In just 60 seconds per day (morning or evening use is fine), patients can use this at-home device to increase meibomian gland output by decapping and stimulating the glands responsible for oil production. Once the scurf and biofilm is removed from the top of the glands, they are free to emit the oil they should. Click here to learn more about NuLids.
Scleral lenses are usually utilized for those with corneal shape irregularities like keratoconus and extensive scarring. However, scleral lenses can be a wonderful option for dryness. These large, rigid lenses are so beneficial because they can vault over the entire cornea and literally bathe the eye in tears all day.
Allergies are nothing more than an immune system hypersensitivity to something in the environment. During an allergic episode, inflammatory chemicals are released, such as histamine. This response is very normal and actually a necessary part of the allergic process. When histamine is released, blood vessels dilate and you get red, watery, itchy eyes. It also signals our bodies to begin fighting. Without this signal, our body is incapable of fighting the allergy. Yay for these!
Moisture chamber goggles are fitted with foam contours to adhere perfectly to the face, creating a safe, non-abrasive seal to keep in moisture. All major brands are adjustable for fit, and the moisturizing pads inserted into the lenses can be sized and trimmed to accommodate the depth of the eye socket. We recommend these mostly for wear overnight, but there are some available for use during the day as well.
As far acupuncture goes, I am a huge proponent of acupuncture for all different things. Acupuncture is one of the things that helped us get pregnant. Stress is a well known contributor to many conditions. The more stress you have in your life, the more your immune system is going to be off and it can cause your eyes to be more dry. I believe that acupuncture can absolutely help, and it's worth adding to your regimen.
Before slathering oil on your face, check the label to make sure you’re using ORGANIC and UNREFINED oil. Unrefined, or virgin, oil is made without the use of chemicals, and is less processed. Make sure to find one that is non-comedogenic, such as jojoba oil.
Most common oils used on the eyelids by those surveyed:
Lutein is a type of carotenoid, which is a fat soluble yellow to red pigment found in many vegetables and plants. Carotenoids give brightly colored vegetables and autumn leaves their color. While often used for maintaining macular health, it does have overall benefits for the eyes.
Before we jump into the best ways to support your ocular health, I want to discussPareto’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 changes that will make 80% of the difference, instead of focusing on the 80% that produce 20% of the results, you would be MUCH better off and likely have better results.
Let me try to explain by giving examples. We help moderate a group that we started a few years ago on Facebook. It is now over 16,000 members and growing. Click here to join. I constantly hear people in there asking about what drops to use, eyelid cleansers to try, warm compresses to buy, etc… These products are ones that produce 20% of your results, yet we focus more than 80% of our time and energy trying to find new “solutions” without thinking about how to manage the underlying problems.
What if instead, you decided to focus on the CAUSE of the issue, which is inflammation in 99% of cases. If you focus your time and effort on the systems that get you to the root of the problem, you may find that you're back to your old self much sooner.
The most popular products are only going to give you 20% of the results you seek. If you focus on our 19 favorites below and start with step one, then move on to step two once step one is solidified in your routine, then move on to step three when step two is in your routine, you'll notice that your eyes (and body) will thank you.
With that being said, DO NOT RELY ON YOUR PRACTITIONER TO CURE YOUR DISEASE. This is up to YOU and YOU alone. You can choose today to start eating better, exercising daily, and supporting your body from the inside out. Your doctor can only do so much without help from you.
Support for ALL body systems 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 (do yourself and our planet a favor and avoid disposable plastic water bottles).
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. The normal recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you'll be drinking about 75 ounces daily.
I love this quote by Katherine Thurer, MD:
“Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend.”
According to Dr. Mercola in the article How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health, “The presence of inflammation is what makes most disease perceptible to an individual. It can and often does occur for years before it exists at levels sufficient to be apparent or clinically significant…”
Food can be the ultimate source of support or the ultimate destruction of your body. 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!
A healthy, plant-based diet is the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing (if not eliminating) processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, and nuts.
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.
Before throwing this article out with the trash because I told you to become a vegetarian, hold off until you read this whole section.
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.
What you put in your mouth is one of the biggest factors affecting how your body works and feels. The cleaner, more oxygen-pumping, anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, and nutrient-filled food you put in your body, the better your body can do what you ask of it.
Why You Should Give Up Meat…
We don’t necessarily mean you have to give up all meat. Our plant-based diet leans heavy on eating mostly vegetables, legumes (beans), and fruits, but eating WILD fish and ORGANIC, GRASS-FED, leaner meats like chicken on an occasional basis is okay as well.
We just want you to reduce your meat consumption to once a day, preferably at dinner (good), once a week (better), 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.
Dairy has a very high allergy rate, according to WebMD, and an estimated 30 million Americans having an allergy 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, like meat, dairy contains growth hormones and antibiotics due to animal treatment explained above. Dairy has also been shown to cause inflammation.
Consider that humans are the only animals on the planet that consume another species’ milk. Cow’s milk is a fairly recent addition to our diets. Milk protein is hard for humans to digest, if they can digest it at all, which triggers inflammation in the body.
Sugar causes inflammation, makes you overweight and is linked to cancer. 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.
Don’t worry though, because nature makes its own sweets. 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.
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 problems throughout the body. Common culprits that you have heard of are margarine and Crisco (although, watch out for partially hydrogenated oil in peanut butter - it should only contain peanuts and maybe a little bit of salt!)
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.
20 years ago, no genetically modified foods existed. Yikes.
The cells in your body (each individual cell of the 100 trillion that you have) are like a city, according to E.G. Heinrich. It is full of activity. 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.
Whenever you can eat a vitamin or mineral in a whole foods diet it is a much 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.
The world of supplements can be very confusing. There are supplements for literally 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. Stick with what works for you (work with a functional medicine doctor to find out) and keep it simple.
According to the CDC, 80-90% of adults and teens do not exercise. That is 8-9 out of every 10 people that do NOT exercise. No wonder health care costs are rising and disease is rampant in the United States.
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 prescription medications. 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). Move that body!
Although everything mentioned above will create the biggest difference in supporting your eye health, a few other lifestyle modifications should be taken into account. 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 vomiting, shaking, skin hives, rashes, allergies, fever, eye dryness, eczema, trouble breathing, and other forms of inflammation.
In this modern world, sometimes it seems just about everyone is taking some kind of prescription drug – sometimes several —and the older the person, the more likely they will be taking more than one prescription medication. Many of these drugs 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 to be aware of is irritated 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. Some common medications that can contribute include hypertension medications and diuretics, allergy medications, tretinoin, and those for anxiety (among many others!)
Smoking negatively affects your eyes in so many 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 chronic disease. Secondly, the actual smoke is an eye irritant as well and increases the evaporation rate of your tears.
So, why do your eyes feel tired after a long day? 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!
Think this is just for back issues? It's not! Chiropractic care may be beneficial for many different systems in your body and it's one of the best ways to support total body health.
In today's world, we've become so accustomed to dealing with ailments with medications. Which drug works best? What pill can I take to feel better? What eye drop is going to cure me?
Unfortunately, these are questions doctors now hear on a daily basis. But have you ever considered the role of your mind in supporting your health? Since it may be much easier to simply take a pill or even make diet changes to control your condition, we often forget about the power of belief and the way we interact with the world around us.
Past studies have suggested a strong 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.
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 get back to a place of comfort. BECAUSE YOU CAN!
Sleep is one of the best ways for your body to restore 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.
Try to get at least seven hours (eight is ideal) of sleep per night, and listen to your body! Sleep helps restore the tear layer and repair the surface of the eyes. Most people don’t prioritize sleep like they should. They instead stay up late watching TV or playing on their smartphones.
What is more important, liking that Facebook post or supporting your eye health (along with all the other great benefits of sleep)?
Cortisol, or the "stress hormone," is an absolute essential part of your normal health and function.
However, if this stress is 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.
Now that we have focused on the 80% that will produce the most results, let’s look at the other 20% that will still help. Make this a part of your routine!
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.
I hope you found this LONG blog post helpful, as it is our life’s work summed up in one blog post. Be sure to share this page with someone you think might benefit from it!
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