Dry eyes happen for many reasons and tend to worsen in spring and winter. People in Southern California may experience worsening symptoms due to air pollution, ocean breeze, and an arid climate. Natural remedies for dry eye symptoms can work harmoniously with dry eye treatments with an ophthalmologist and dry eye specialist.
Laser Eye Center™ offers the latest dry eye treatments, and our eye doctors are some of the best in the region. We are SoCal’s premier eye clinic for refractive surgery, cataract surgery, and eye disease treatment. With more than 500,000 procedures performed and a 30-year history of success, our patients know they’re in excellent hands.
Why Are Californian Residents Disproportionately Affected by Dry Eye
California has created the perfect storm for dry eye disease. The desert climate of certain areas, agriculture, and pollution increase dust, debris, and chemicals in the air. Air pollutants often manifest as dry eye symptoms because the contaminants end up on the surface of your eyes, triggering inflammation. The arid atmosphere in these areas makes tears break up faster than wet climates, in turn causing higher levels of corneal dryness. Farm workers are more likely to have dry eyes due to outdoor work with dust, wind, and dirt. Ongoing California fires also affect eye health and increase dry eye symptoms.
Why You Need to See an Ophthalmologist About Dry Eyes First
Before you try various natural remedies for dry eyes, you need to see an ophthalmologist for diagnosis. Many other conditions can present as dry eyes; an underlying medical concern may cause some cases. Ocular allergies and Demodex blepharitis can cause dry eye symptoms but require different treatments than dry eye disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome may cause dry eyes.
An eye exam with one of our ophthalmologists can determine the cause or type of dry eye disease you have so your in-office and at-home treatments work more effectively. Natural remedies for dry eyes typically offer short-term relief, but working with our eye doctors can provide longer-lasting symptom relief.
Natural Remedies to Reverse Dry Eyes
Natural treatments may help people who don’t produce enough tears or have an issue with their tear film. These remedies can restore lubrication by expressing the meibomian glands or supplementing tears with over-the-counter drops.
People with meibomian gland dysfunction, in which the glands lining the eyelid edges become blocked or clogged, may find relief with a warm compress. Grab a washcloth and run it under warm water, then hold it against your closed eyelids for at least five minutes. You may need to do this up to four or more times a day to improve your tear film, and the washcloth may need to be reheated. Warm compresses heat and moisturize the meibomian glands to help express lipids (oil or meibum) and clear the blockages. You can gently massage your eyelids to increase secretions and improve oil flow.
Massaging the eyelids with warm water and baby shampoo can also increase oil flow from the meibomian glands to improve tear quality. Over-the-counter eyelid cleansers will also work, but make sure to choose a preservative-free cleanser. Remove makeup first, and do not apply any lotions or creams. Clean your upper and lower eyelids and eyelashes. This natural dry eye treatment removes debris and relieves dry eyes with better eyelid hygiene.
Eyelid Scrubs with Tea Tree Oil for Demodex Mites
Demodex blepharitis can cause dry eyes due to eye irritation and eyelid inflammation. Demodex mites are typically found in hair follicles and live on the eyelid skin and eyelashes. For most people, Demodex mites don’t cause symptoms, but an infestation may lead to itching or burning eyes, redness, foreign body sensations on the eyes, worsening dry eye symptoms, and blurry vision. Tea tree oil kills Demodex mites.
After you use a warm compress, gently scrub your eyelashes with a cleanser made with tea tree oil for 60 seconds, then rinse the eyelashes and eyelids with warm water. Try to do this at least twice daily to control the Demodex population.
Contact Lens Hygiene
People wearing contact lenses are more susceptible to irritation and dry eyes. When you are wearing a contact lens, the tears don’t have direct access to the ocular surface and can’t distribute the tear film evenly, causing eye irritation and dryness. Sleeping with contact lenses in your eyes is one of the worst habits you can develop because it increases your risk of eye infections, corneal abrasions, and dry eyes.
Make sure you wear your contact lenses as prescribed and switch to a new set when you’re supposed to, such as every two weeks, once a month, or daily. Some patients take holidays from their contact lenses and wear glasses for several days, weeks, or months to give their eyes a break and see if dry eye symptoms improve.
People with dry eyes may need daily disposable contact lenses with more breathable materials than traditional extended-wear contacts. These daily wear contact lenses lubricate the eye and may reverse dry eyes.
Other Natural Methods of Relieving Dry Eyes
Castor oil eye drops may improve dry eye symptoms and decrease the rate of tear evaporation, and some patients have experienced symptom relief with acupuncture therapy. Adjusting your prescription or over-the-counter medications can also relieve dry eyes. Antihistamines, decongestants, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapy can interfere with the tear film.
Tips to Improve Dry Eyes at Home
Lifestyle and diet changes can improve dry eyes, especially symptoms caused by environmental factors. These include:
- Eye Protection: Wear wraparound sunglasses or protective eyewear in windy, dry environments and avoid blowing air from fans and vents.
- Add Moisture to Your Home or Office: Use a humidifier in your bedroom and office to increase humidity and reverse some dry eye symptoms caused by the arid climate in California.
- Frequent Screen Breaks: Take timed breaks from reading, watching TV, or using a computer or device to avoid computer vision syndrome. These intensive activities decrease blinking rates, causing the tears to evaporate faster. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away.
- A Nutrient-Rich Diet: Increasing your intake of nutrient-rich foods can improve the quality of your tears and lipids in the meibomian glands. Focus on omega-3 fatty acids and foods high in Vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E, niacin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These nutrients can be found in fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy products. Fish oil supplements can also help.
- Increase Your Hydration: Women should drink at least eight cups of water daily, and men should have at least 10 cups to help the eyes produce enough tears to improve dry eyes. Dehydration decreases tear secretion and concentrates the tear fluid.
Quitting smoking, avoiding food allergies or intolerances, and managing blood sugar levels in diabetic patients can also improve or reverse dry eyes.
Schedule a Dry Eye Consultation at Laser Eye Center™
Contact our dry eye specialists in Los Angeles to discuss your treatment options. Laser Eye Center™ has an outstanding reputation throughout Southern California, providing excellent patient care with state-of-the-art technology. Schedule an eye exam at one of our six locations in Los Angeles County, Santa Clarita Valley, and Inland Empire by calling (800) 649-2659.
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