Itchy dry eyes aren’t always the result of an allergy. And while both men and women can suffer from them, the ladies lead the pack in this uncomfortable condition.
Estimates vary, but experts say up to 28 percent of women may be affected by dry eyes.1,2,3 And, according to the Society for Women’s Health Research, 62 percent of women who are experiencing pre-menopause or menopause might not be making enough tears of their own.4
Researchers report that somewhere between 7 and 10 million folks in the United States alone are using an artificial tears formula.5
Common symptoms of dry eyes can include…
- A gritty or sandy sensation in your eye
- Burning in the eye
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Crusting on your lashes
- Eyes occasionally get stuck shut
- Rubbing your eyes makes them feel better
Sound familiar? If so, you may be suffering from dry eyes too.
Soothe your dry eyes naturally
The following three simple, drug-free home remedies could help bring you some quick relief.
1. A warm compress:
A warm compress can be very effective at relieving dry eyes. When you wake up in the morning, and again before you go to bed, run comfortably warm (not too hot!) water from the tap over a clean washcloth. Place on your closed eyelids for at least five minutes.
Why it works:
The meibomian glands along your eyelids that produce the oily substance that mixes with water to make your tears can get clogged up. Without this oil, your tears dry up too fast. A warm compress can gently reopen your clogged glands by loosening up the hardened oil.
Eating more omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve your dry-eye symptoms and even keep them from coming back.6 Women who eat more omega-3-rich foods are 20 percent less likely to suffer from dry eye, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.7
And women who ate at least 5 servings of fish had a stunning 68 percent less chance of having dry-eye than ladies who only ate one. In another study, 65 percent of folks with dry-eye had significant improvements in their symptoms after taking an omega-3 supplement for three months.8
Why it works:
Omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatories which means they may reduce any eye inflammation you have, giving your eyes the support they need to start producing more quality tears.9
You can add more omega-3s to your diet by eating more fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and chia seeds. Fish oil supplements are also a great option.
I have to admit, this last home remedy is my favorite of all, and it may be why I’ve been lucky enough to have escaped dry eyes myself so far. It turns out sipping on coffee (or eating other caffeinated foods) could help relieve your dry-eye symptoms.
People who regularly consume caffeine have a lower risk of developing dry eyes. And in one study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, folks who drank the equivalent of two to six cups of coffee a day had their tear production skyrocket 30 percent.10
Why it works:
In people with certain genetic variations (up to half of us, according to experts) caffeine stimulates tear glands. So if you’re not caffeine sensitive, feel free to indulge.
1. “The Canadian dry eye epidemiology study,” Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;438:805-6
2. “A patient questionnaire approach to estimating the prevalence of dry eye symptoms in patients presenting to optometric practices across Canada,” Optometry and Vision Science 1997;74:9:624-31
3. “Dry Eye: How to Study the Studies,” Review of Ophthalmology, Mark B. Abelson, MD and Sarah Rosner, Published 15 February 2004
4. “Women unaware of dry eye’s link to menopause, survey finds,” Opthalmology Times, May 01, 2006
5. “Prevalence and risk factors associated with dry eye symptoms: a population based study in Indonesia,” Br J Ophthalmol. 2002 Dec; 86(12): 1347–1351
6. “Omega-3 essential fatty acids therapy for dry eye syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies.” Med Sci Monit. 2014 Sep 6;20:1583-9
7. “Relation between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;82(4):887-93
8. “A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome,” Int J Ophthalmol. 2013; 6(6): 811–816
9. “Pilot, prospective, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial of an omega-3 supplement for dry eye, Cornea, 30 (3) (2011), pp. 308–314
10. “Caffeine Increases Tear Volume Depending on Polymorphisms within the Adenosine A2a Receptor Gene and Cytochrome P450 1A2,” Ophthalmology, Volume 119, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 972–978
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