Dry eyes can make your eyes feel irritated and itchy. You may experience blurry vision or a gritty feeling—like something is stuck in your eyes. It’s not a pleasant condition, to say the least. But dry eye relief may be in sight (pun intended).
Knowing what to do for dry eyes doesn’t have to be all on you. If you’re experiencing discomfort from dry eyes, your first step should be to make an appointment for an eye exam. Your eye doctor can determine if you have dry eye syndrome, which is a chronic eye condition. Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to an infection or damage to the cornea, so it’s important to always follow your doctor’s treatment advice first.
With that said, there are plenty of things you can try at home to help with relieving your symptoms. Let’s take a look at eight simple home remedies for dry eyes.
8 Home Remedies for Dry Eyes
Treating dry eye symptoms at home can help soothe discomfort. Here are some common dry eye relief tips you may want to consider.
1. Eye Drops
Lubricating eye drops (also called artificial tears) are the main type of over-the-counter eye drops for dry eyes. These drops act and feel like real tears. They come with or without preservatives.
Artificial tears with preservatives tend to cost less than drops without preservatives. But the preservatives might irritate your eyes, especially if you’re using the drops often. If you think you’ll be putting in eye drops four or more times a day, go for the drops without preservatives.
Sometimes, dry eye symptoms are caused by common allergens like dust, mold, pollen, or pet dander. In this case, your doctor might suggest eye drops with antihistamines to suppress the allergy symptoms. Your doctor might also suggest drops to treat red or “bloodshot” eyes, which can be a symptom of dry eyes.
Gels or ointments
If you’ve tried drops and they aren’t doing much for your dry eyes, you could ask your eye doctor about a heftier dry eye remedy: a gel or ointment. But be aware—these thicker formulas can cause blurry vision for some people, so it’s usually advised to use them at bedtime.
2. Use a Warm Compress
A little warmth can go a long way toward soothing and lubricating eyes that are mildly or moderately dry. A warm compress as a dry eye treatment can:
- Help the flow of natural oils from glands in the eye. These oils help hydrate our eyes.
- Reduce eye twitching or spasms.
- Increase blood flow to the eyes to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
To warm your eyes, place a warm, wet washcloth over your closed eyes for 30 seconds (or up to a few minutes). Or try a heated dry compress, which you can find at many drugstores.
Safety tips: Before preparing your warm compress, make sure your hands and all supplies are clean. Use a fresh washcloth that isn’t typically used for cleaning or other tasks, especially tasks involving chemicals. Test the heat of the washcloth before placing it on your face. If you try a warm compress more than once, use a clean washcloth each time.
3. Clean Your Eyelids
It’s possible that dirt or dried oil could be blocking a gland and interfering with your eyes’ natural lubrication system. To clean your eyelids, try a solution of 1 part baby shampoo and 1 part water or an over-the-counter eyelid cleanser once a day.
4. Reduce Screen Time
Have you noticed your dry eye symptoms after scrolling on your phone for too long? When using a computer, mobile device, or tablet, people tend to blink less. Why does it matter? Blinking is one of the main ways eyes stay lubricated and healthy.
So, staring at a screen and blinking less can cause eyes to dry out big time. It may also cause digital eye strain.
Taking some time away from digital devices and periodically looking farther away could help. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second screen break and look at something out the window or inside that’s about 20 feet away.
5. Use a Humidifier
Dry air inside your home can make a lot of things dry—like your skin, lips, and even your eyes. And in the winter, it can get even worse.
Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air. This can keep tears from evaporating too quickly and help prevent dry eyes.
6. Increase Your Water Intake
Speaking of moisture, are you drinking enough water? Drinking plenty of water (at least eight cups) will keep your body hydrated—and this includes your eyes. Increasing your water intake may help your eyes with tear production.
7. Wear Sunglasses
If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, consider wearing sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses not only protects your eyes from harmful UV exposure but also shields them from the environment. Just like dry air can dry out eyes, being in the sunlight can make tears evaporate more quickly than usual. Plus, wind can contribute to dry eyes, too.
8. Consider Oil Supplements
It’s true: What you eat can affect your eyes. Make sure your diet includes Omega-3 fatty acids. For example, the Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil supplements or animal-based oil supplements might help add oil to tears, which can keep your eyes hydrated.
How To Cure Dry Eyes Permanently
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition, which means it can’t be permanently cured. But your eye doctor may suggest a few of the dry eye remedies above or more intensive treatments to ease your symptoms.
Dry Eye Treatments Your Eye Doctor May Discuss
Contact lenses: If you wear contact lenses, your doctor might suggest a different type of contacts—possibly a new brand or even specialty lenses. They may also suggest a different wear schedule.
Learn more: Contacts for Dry Eyes
Prescriptions: Your doctor may suggest prescription eye drops or a prescription nasal spray to stimulate tear production. Some dry eye medications that help stimulate tear production or reduce inflammation can be taken orally.
Other Treatments: In severe cases, an eye doctor might suggest a procedure that benefits the tear ducts or lubricates the eyes.
Dry Eyes in the House?
When you’re experiencing dry eyes, your first step should be to make an appointment with your eye doctor. With your doctor’s green light, we hope one or more of these home remedies provide relief for your dry eye symptoms.