Dry eyes can cause burning, itching, and other unpleasant sensations. There are many things that cause dry eyes, and there are many ways to treat dry eyes. Each person will have to find the right solution to their dryness. When dry eyes occur as a reaction to allergies, you can treat them with prescription eye drops or antihistamines. On the other hand, eye drops and antihistamines may provide no relief if the cause is something else like prescription medication or dry air. We offer you the top 15 ways to treat your dry eyes.
The solution to your dry eyes could be sitting in your medicine cabinet already. Most people reach for home remedies before going to an ophthalmologist. So, our first 11 items on the list are treatments that you can try at home. If these don’t help, our last four remedies are ones an ophthalmologist will likely use.
Eye Drops and Artificial Tears
Often, the simplest solution to dry eyes is simply an over-the-counter eye drop designed to help dry or red eyes. It may seem obvious, but when your eyes are dry, they need lubrication. The eye drops you can find at any pharmacy are a good first step. Although, they may not provide relief for those with chronic and severe cases of dry eye.
The health and cleanliness of your eyelids affect your eyes’ dryness significantly. Things like eyeliner and mascara are the source of dry eyes for many people. An eyelid wash is a simple solution to this. Take a gentle cleanser, like diluted baby shampoo, and rub it on your eyelid. Pay particular attention to washing the area closest to your eyelashes. Afterward, rinse your eyelids off with warm water.
Laying a washcloth soaked in warm water on your closed eyes can provide dry eye relief on multiple fronts. First, it relieves the itchiness and irritation caused by the dryness of your eyes. Secondly, the heat increases circulation to the area, which in turn promotes a greater production of tears. If nothing else, this feels good when your eyes are burning from being so dry.
Like so many things in life, the solution to dry eyes may be dietary. Fatty acids play a major role in the healthy production of tears. Increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids with something like a fish oil supplement can help a lot. Omega-3 will increase the production of tears, but that’s not all. It will also help your body produce tears that do a better job of lubricating your eyes.
Coconut Oil Soak
Coconut oil can work wonders for dry eyes, especially when the problem is rapidly evaporating tears. If your tears are evaporating too quickly, it may be due to a lack of healthy oils. The process is pretty simple. Start by soaking a cotton ball in virgin coconut oil. Then, place the cotton ball on your closed eye for 10 to 15 minutes.
Bring on the Caffeine
Most of us don’t need an excuse to increase our coffee intake, but we’re giving you one anyway. When you have dry eyes, caffeine can make your tear glands more active, resulting in moister eyes. You should still be careful not to go overboard with the caffeine, as it can cause jitters, insomnia, and act as a diuretic, all of which can worsen the dryness in your eyes.
Cut Back the Alcohol
Alcohol can cause pretty serious dehydration. Your tear glands may try to compensate for the lack of liquid by reducing its production of tears. So, you may want to reduce your alcohol consumption or just stop altogether. Many people find that they can completely eliminate their dry eyes by cutting out alcohol.
Kick Your Smoking Habit
People who regularly smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop dry eyes. Simply being surrounded by smoke will cause your eyes to become dryer. Even more seriously, the chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause ocular irritation. Even if you are not a smoker, sufferers of dry eyes should do their best to avoid places with significant smoking.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Your body can’t produce what it lacks, and your tears consist primarily of water. So, increasing your water intake will certainly make it easier for your tear ducts to produce a healthy amount of tears. Try to shoot for eight to ten glasses of water every day.
Protect Your Eyes With Sunglasses
If you start wearing sunglasses when outside, it can protect your eyes from environmental factors like wind and dust. Eyes can become inflamed as a reaction to too much sunlight as well. So, protecting them when outside can alleviate some of the symptoms of dry eyes.
Follow the 20/20/20 Rule When Looking at Screens
Staring at a screen all day can cause noticeable irritation in the eyes. That irritation can cause your eyes to become dry. So, ophthalmologists generally prescribe the 20/20/20 rule for screen time. When you have been looking at a screen for 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and set your sights on something more than 20 feet away. This can reduce the strain your eyes experience from staring at a screen.
When healthy eye care and home remedies fail to help, you should visit an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists can offer more intensive forms of treatment. They can also help diagnose the source of your dry eyes, which can help you find the right form of treatment. These are the most common ways an ophthalmologist will treat dry eyes.
Placing Punctal Plugs
In the outside corners of your eyes are the puncta. The puncta act as a drain for your tears. So, one of the most common treatments for chronically dry eyes are punctal plugs. An ophthalmologist can place an extremely small silicone plug into that hole. This allows tears to stay in your eye longer, reducing the dryness.
Restasis Eye Drops
Restasis is a prescription eye drop that does more than just add artificial tears to the eye. It actually stimulates the production of natural tears. It does this by reducing the inflammation within the tear gland. Restasis can be used regularly and as a long-term treatment for most people.
Medicated Contact Lenses
There are specialized contact lenses called amniotic membranes. These provide nutrients to the cornea, which helps dry eyes heal better. By regenerating the healthy outer cell layer of the cornea, amniotic membranes can allow your body to naturally produce healthy tears.
Intense Pulsed Light
The Northwest Eye Center is one of the leading facilities for using intense pulsed light to treat dry eyes. By using a device that precisely emits intense light, we can promote healthy activity in the meibomian glands. The meibomian glands line the inside of your eyelid, right under your eyelashes. These glands produce oils that reduce the rate at which tears evaporate.