While there are many dry eye treatments out there, the most effective ones are often the natural remedies. They require no prescription medication and no eye drops. Dry eye disease is a very complicated topic and treatments can be very expensive, especially if you’re using prescription medications or in-office treatments. However, there are ways you can naturally curb your symptoms.
1. Drink More Water
This sounds so simple, but we often are not drinking enough. Sometimes, you may feel hungry when you’re actually thirsty. This will help not only with appetite but also with your eyes. Drinking coffee, tea, and soda throughout the day (which so many of us do) means you’re pulling water out of your body because these are natural diuretics. This can increase symptoms of dry eyes. In addition to this, oral antihistamines and blood pressure medications can dehydrate your body and your eyes.
We recommend working with your doctor to find the optimal fluid intake for you. A general recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, so if you weigh 150 pounds you’d be drinking 75 ounces.
2. Blink More Often
This sounds so simple as well, but we’re constantly in front of digital devices. Whether it’s your cell phone, computer, or a tablet, you’re likely not blinking enough when you’re working on these devices. When you’re walking around doing other tasks, you blink about 20 times per minute. However, when you’re reading or working on a cell phone you may only be blinking five times per minute. Because you’re not blinking as much, your eyelids aren’t spreading tears across the surface of your eyes, and the tears on your eyes evaporate more quickly.
By simply doing a few blinking exercises throughout the day, you can avoid some of the effects of this. Close your eyes for a few seconds each hour, or at least make sure you’re forcefully blinking as many times per day as you can. When you incompletely blink, which is common when working on the computer and reading, you can begin to get dry spots on your cornea.
3. Try Warm Compresses
Using a warm compress daily can be a great way to combat dry eyes. The meibomian glands in the top and bottom eyelids produce the oily portion of the tears. When these glands are broken down or begin to clog, the oils can no longer run smoothly onto the surface of the eye, and the tears evaporate.
A warm compress will work to heat up the oil in the meibomian glands, possibly allowing the oil to move more freely out of the glands. You can think of the oil in the meibomian glands like butter. When it’s hardened, it becomes stagnant and does not move freely out of the glands. When it’s heated up, it becomes liquid and can freely flow out of the glands onto the surface of the eyes.
A warm washcloth is not going to work for this because it will cool off in a matter of seconds. You need to use the warm compress for at least 10 minutes at a time. A warm compress eye maskis reusable and washable, which makes it incredibly economical and convenient to use.
The only caution is to be careful with the amount of time you heat the mask, as heating it too long can damage the mask and can burn the skin of your eyelids.
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4. Take Omega-3 Supplements
Although there are many different nutrients on the market that may benefit dry eye, omega-3 supplements get the most attention because of their strong anti-inflammatory effects. ALA, EPA, and DHA are all forms of omega-3 fatty acids important for the eyes. ALA is mostly found in nuts, seeds, and vegetables and can convert into EPA and DHA but at a low efficiency. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish and, when they work together, they can be very beneficial for those with heart conditions, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and dry eye.
There are many omega-3 supplements on the market, so make sure to choose one that is high quality. Look for a triglyceride-based omega-3 supplementbecause this is more superior than the ethyl ester form. You’ll more easily absorb a high quality omega supplement and have to take less for the same effect. If you’re pregnant, nursing, or allergic to any supplements, make sure to speak with your doctor about the best formula and dosage for you.
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As you can see, the above treatments can be very beneficial for those with dry eye disease. Without spending a ton of money, you can easily make lifestyle changes and find products that are both affordable and effective.