Remedies for Dry Eye
Before examining the solutions, you should know more about the disease called “dry eye.
As the name suggests, the eyes dry out.
This is due to lack of lubrication of the surface of the eye, which causes a painful condition.
Becoming red and irritated, you also have the feeling of having a foreign body in your eye and your vision becomes blurred.
Here are some tips for dry eye syndrome that you should try if you have this disease, they really work.
Put them to the test and check the results.
What is the cause of this syndrome?
Keep in mind that…
Tears and dry eye
Tears contain water, lipids, antibodies and proteins: all these components of tears help keep eyes moist and lubricated, which also increases resistance to eye infection.
The dryness of the eyes is a condition caused, mainly, by a bad lubrication of the eye, that can depend on the natural aging, by an infection of the eye…etc.
The most serious forms of dry eye depend instead on trauma to the eyes or the taking of certain very powerful medications.
The most common dry eye symptoms are:
- itchy eyes
- redness of the eyes
- blurred vision
- excessive sensitivity to light
- the sensation of having dust or a foreign body in the eye
Herbs and Herbal Remedies for Dry Eye
Among the most effective natural remedies there are definitely herbal remedies, in fact, they contain many substances with beneficial properties, which are often exploited in this type of treatments.
Lemon juice, tomato and lentil flour
An excellent dry eye remedy is a lemon juice paste.
Mixed with tomato concentrate, lentil flour and turmeric powder: the paste obtained is applied under the eyes to reduce the dryness of the eyes.
Castor oil and almond oil
Castor oil and almond oil help provide moisture in the eyes and reduce dry eye condition.
Both of these oils can be applied under the eyes, so that the skin around the eyes is more moist.
It is castor oil and almond oil even more efficient than many moisturizers.
One remedy that can be used to reduce the problem of dry eye syndrome is cucumber.
You have to take a fresh cucumber, preferably also cold and cut into slices.
Place cucumber slices in the eyes to provide moisture and reduce dryness.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance found in all organisms living in the human body.
Hyaluronic acid is used in the treatment of dry eye syndrome, because when applied to the surface of the eye, it significantly reduces the symptoms and damage associated with this syndrome.
Nuts, sesame seeds, grape seeds, almonds and whole grains
In addition to medicinal herbs for topical use, another remedy is worth mentioning.
Including nuts, sesame seeds, grape seeds, almonds, and whole grains in your diet helps reduce dry eye because these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Home Remedies for Dry Eye
Home remedies, i.e. the so-called traditional remedies, are very often the most effective of the treatments themselves.
So it can be very useful to try some of these dry eye remedies.
One of the simplest dry eye remedies is to prepare a warm compress.
Wet a cloth, necessarily clean, with hot water, dampening the cloth, and apply over the eyes.
This remedy can also be done two or three times a day.
In terms of diet, it is recommended to increase the intake of fish.
Because the oils in these foods are an excellent remedy that increases the lubrication of the eyes.
The consumption of fish also promotes proper activity of the tear ducts.
Conversely, it may help to reduce consumption of white bread, processed foods, margarine, vegetable oils, and refined cereals.
In addition, a correct intake of water should not be lacking in the diet.
However, an abundant intake of citrus fruits and liquids such as green fruit juices and vegetables contain nutrients useful for eye health.
Alcohol consumption is absolutely eliminated, as it contributes to the worsening of the dry eye condition.
Final Consideration of Dry Eye Remedies
Most remedies are extraordinarily effective if the dryness is mild.
But it can be completely ineffective, when the pathological state progresses and becomes more acute.
In this case, the natural remedies may be completely useless, so you will have to take another type of treatment to solve the problem.
Dry Eye Syndrome Explained
Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. The consequences of dry eye range from mild but constant eye irritation to significant inflammation and even scarring on the front surface of the eye.
In addition to being called dry eye syndrome, dry eye disease, or simply “dry eye,” there are more terms to describe dry eye, such as:
- Keratitis sicca. Generally used to describe the dryness and inflammation of the cornea.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Used to describe dry eye, which affects both the cornea and conjunctiva.
- Lacrimal dysfunction syndrome. Used to emphasize that inadequate tear quality can be just as important as inadequate quantity.
Prevalence of dry eye
Dry eye is very common, and dry eye syndrome is a major reason for consultation with vision professionals. A recent Internet survey revealed that nearly half (48%) of Americans age 18 and older regularly experienced dry eye symptoms.
In addition, the results of a 2012 Gallup survey show that more than 26 million Americans suffer from dry eye, and it is estimated that this figure will rise to more than 29 million within 10 years.
Other sources estimate that about 5 million Americans age 50 and older have dry eye syndrome as a significant clinical condition, and dry eye affects almost twice as many women as men.
Another common symptom is something called “foreign body sensation”-the sensation of having grit or some other object or material “inside” the eye.
And oddly enough, watery eyes can also be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. This is because the dryness of the surface of the eye sometimes overstimulates the production of the aqueous component of tears as a protective mechanism.
But this “tear reflex” doesn’t stay in the eye long enough to correct the underlying dry eye disorder.
In addition to these symptoms, dry eye can cause inflammation and damage (sometimes permanent) to the surface of the eye.
Dry eye syndrome can also affect the results of LASIK surgery and cataract surgery.
What causes dry eye syndrome?
In order to keep eyes healthy, with good vision and without discomfort, it is essential that they have an adequate and uniform tear layer. Tears wash the surface of the eye to keep it moist and remove dust, debris, and microorganisms that could damage the cornea and cause an eye infection.
A normal tear film consists of three important components:
- An oily component (lipid)
- A water component (aqueous)
- A mucous component (mucin)
Each component of the tear film serves a fundamental purpose. For example, lipids in tears help prevent the tear film from evaporating too quickly and increase lubrication, while mucin helps fix and spread tears across the surface of the eye.
Each tear component is produced by different glands in or near the eye:
- The oil component is produced by the meibomian glands of the eyelids.
- The aqueous component is produced by the tear glands behind the outer side of the upper eyelids.
- The mucin component is produced by the goblet cells of the conjunctiva covering the white of the eye (sclera).
Any problem with one of these sources of tear film components can result in tear instability and dry eyes, and there are different categories of dry eye, depending on which component is affected.
For example, if the meibomian glands do not produce or secrete enough oil (meibum), the tear film may evaporate too quickly, a condition called “evaporative dry eye.
The underlying disorder-called meibomian gland dysfunction-is now recognized as a significant factor in many cases of dry eye syndrome.
In other cases, the fundamental cause of dry eye is a failure of the tear glands to produce enough aqueous fluid to keep the eyes properly moisturized. This condition is also called “watery dry eye deficiency:
The specific type of dry eye will usually determine the type of treatment recommended by your eye care professional for relief of dry eye symptoms.
Dry eyes are more common when spring allergens are in the air
University of Miami researchers examined 3.4 million visits to Veterans Affairs eye clinics between 2006 and 2011, when approximately 607,000 people were diagnosed with dry eye.
They also reviewed the prevalence of dry eye and allergies and found that both were booming in the spring, especially in April. (Dry eye also peaks in winter, probably because of the lower humidity indoors.)
Because dry eye is related to allergies, another way to prevent allergies is to wear eyeglasses outdoors and place air filters indoors.
Factors associated with dry eye syndrome
The causes are very diverse and can occur in isolation or several of them come together. The following are among the main risk factors for dry eye:
- Hormonal (adolescence/menopause)
- Older age
- Wearing contact lenses
- Use of antidepressant and antihistamine drugs (for allergy)
- Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Having had eye surgery
- Environmental factors (air conditioning, heating, dry or very polluted environments…)
- Diet (vitamin deficit)
- Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren syndrome, fibromyalgia…)
A number of factors can increase the risk of dry eyes. These include:
- Use of computer. When we use a computer or smart cell phone, as well as other portable digital devices, we tend to blink less deeply and less frequently, leading to increased tear evaporation and also an increased risk of having dry eye symptoms.
- Wearing contact lenses. While it may be difficult to determine the exact extent to which contact lenses contribute to dry eye problems, the discomfort of this condition is a primary reason why people stop wearing them.
- Aging. Dry eye syndrome can appear at any age, but it becomes more common over time, especially after age 50.
- Menopause. Postmenopausal women face a higher risk of dry eye than men of the same age.
- Indoor environments. Air conditioning, ceiling fans, and air-injection heating systems can lower indoor humidity and/or accelerate tear evaporation, resulting in dry eye symptoms.
- Outdoor environments. Arid climates and windy or low humidity conditions increase the risk of dry eye.
- Frequent flights. The air in aircraft cabins is extremely dry and can cause dry eye problems, especially in those who fly frequently.
- Smoking. In addition to dry eyes, smoking is associated with serious eye problems such as macular degeneration, cataracts and uveitis. (For details, see our article on why smoking is bad for your eyes. )
- Health conditions. Certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes, thyroid-related disorders, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s Syndrome, contribute to dry eye problems.
- Medications. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure drugs, and birth control pills, increase the risk of dry eye symptoms.
- Eyelid problems. Incomplete closing of the eyelids when sleeping or blinking, a condition called lagophthalmos, can be caused by aging or appearing after plastic blepharoplasty, as well as other causes, can cause severe dry eye that, if left untreated, could lead to a corneal ulcer.
Intelligent cell phone use and its relationship to dry eye in schoolchildren
There may be another cost associated with children using smartphones, in addition to the phone company’s large monthly bill: It could be causing the development of dry eye disease in young children.
Researchers from Korea evaluated risk factors for dry eye disease among school children using video devices as well as smart phones.
They examined 288 children and classified them as those with dry eye and those with a normal, moistened eye surface (control group).
Each child completed a questionnaire about the types of video devices they routinely used (computer, smartphone, and television) and the amount of time they spent on each.
Among the participants, 9.7 % were diagnosed with dry eye, and 90.3 % were in the control group.
Smart cellular use was more common in the dry eye group than in the control group (71% vs. 50%), and an increase in daily smart cellular use was associated with an increased risk of dry eye disease, as well as total hours per day spent using all video devices combined.
Another interesting finding is that increased computer use and TV viewing, measured separately, did not increase the risk of dry eye disease.
The study authors concluded that smart cell use is a major risk factor for dry eye disease in children, and that parents should control the amount of time their children spend using video monitors, especially smart phones, on a daily basis.
The study report was published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. – G.H.
Dry Eye Tests
The only way to know for sure if you have chronic dry eye syndrome is for your eye care professional to perform one or more dry eye tests during the eye exam.
The symptoms themselves are poor predictors of the presence and severity of dry eye disease. Symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and may even be affected by personality type.
Some people with only a mild or minimal dry eye condition may feel heavy in their eyes, while others may suffer from major dry eye problems and do not take enough account of severe symptoms to see an eye care professional (or may not even experience any dry eye symptoms).
Only a careful examination of your eyes by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can reveal the presence and severity of dry eye syndrome and help the eye care professional determine the best type of dry eye treatment in order to maintain the health, comfort, and good vision of your eyes.
What are the types of dry eye?
There are different types of dry eye that it is important to determine correctly by means of a comprehensive ophthalmological examination and specific diagnostic tests, since an expert examination will depend on an individualized orientation and, with it, a tailor-made and effective treatment.
- Aquodeficiency: decrease in tear production, usually of the aqueous component. The most severe cases are associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.
- Evaporative: rapid evaporation of the tear. It is the most frequent reason, caused mainly by the dysfunction of the Meibomio glands.
- Inflammatory: clinical or sublinical inflammation that is present in most patients with dry eye.
- Neurotrophic: deficit in the innervation of the cornea, which limits the secretion of tears and the regeneration of the ocular surface.
- Neuropathic: alteration in the innervation of the cornea whose cause and mechanism is still unknown and which is characterized by a high intensity of symptoms with an eye examination within normal or with minimal alterations.
Dry eye treatment and prevention
Fortunately, there are effective treatment options if you suffer from chronic dry eye. In many cases, regular use of artificial tears and some small behavior modifications (taking frequent breaks when working on the computer, for example) can significantly reduce dry eye symptoms.
In other cases, your eye care professional may recommend restricted-sale ophthalmic medications and in-office procedures to help your body generate and secrete more tears, as well as to decrease irritation and inflammation of the eye.
If you would like to learn more about dry eye prevention and treatments, see our Dry Eye Treatment page.
How can it be prevented?
The early detection of dry eye, through routine check-ups at the ophthalmologist (especially in case of having any of the risk factors), is important to act early on its symptoms and avoid the consequences that the disease can bring.
Once diagnosed, it is also advisable to carry out periodic check-ups (approximately every 3-6 months) and the visits indicated by the specialist to apply the appropriate treatments.
It is also essential that the patient adopt a preventative attitude to keep the dry eye at bay by following some key recommendations detailed in the eye health tips section.