Dry Eyes: Causes, Symptoms, And Natural Treatments

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Tsai, O.D
by Pooja Karkala

If your eyes are turning super sensitive to wind or heat, and get itchy and irritated easily, there is a high probability that you have developed a syndrome called the dry eye.

Dry eye usually occurs when your tear glands run out of tears or when your tears evaporate quickly. This is followed by a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes. If you have developed dry eyes, this article lists simple home remedies that may relieve the discomforting symptoms. These natural treatments help manage dry eyes by replenishing the moisture in your eyes and restoring their functioning. Keep read to find out how to treat dry eyes naturally.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a condition in which an individual is unable to produce enough tears to lubricate or nourish the eyes. This condition is also referred to as dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis.

Your eyes always need a layer of tears coating them to keep them lubricated and avoid the entry of dust, allergies, and other irritants. A lack of this layer can lead to dry eyes and irritation in the affected person’s eyes.

Dry eyes could be a result of various factors. Some of the most common causes are discussed below.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

The common causes that lead to the drying of your eyes are:

  • Constant exposure to wind or dry air
  • Dysfunctional tear glands
  • Allergies
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Use of medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, contraceptive pills, or antidepressants
  • Ageing
  • Not blinking for a long time
  • Long-term use of contact lens
  • Staring at the computer screen for too long
  • A deficiency in vitamins A and D
  • Hormonal therapy and pregnancy
  • Medical conditions like hypothyroidism, allergies, arthritis, and immune system disorders

Dry eyes can be quite irritating in the long run, given the irritating symptoms that surface with the onset of this syndrome.

Symptoms Of Dry Eyes

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • A stinging and burning sensation in your eyes
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Eyes become irritated and red
  • Unusual tearing of the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eyes feel dry and sandy

Dry eyes are not only exasperating but can also interfere with your day to day life. Hence, it is best to get rid of this problem at the earliest. Given below is a list of home remedies that can help you treat dry eye and its symptoms safely.

15 Home Remedies For Dry Eyes

  1. Castor Oil
  2. Coconut Oil
  3. Vitamins And Nutrients
  4. Cucumber
  5. Chamomile Tea
  6. Fennel Seeds Tea
  7. Yogurt
  8. Aloe Vera
  9. Essential Oils
  10. Olive Oil
  11. Fish Oil
  12. Flaxseed Oil
  13. Green Tea Extract
  14. Honey
  15. Hot Compress

1. Castor Oil

Castor oil is derived by pressing the seeds of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), and it contains high levels of ricinoleic acid. This imparts naturally lubricating properties to it. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that relieves the burning and itching associated with dry eyes (1), (2).

You Will Need

1-2 drops of cold-pressed, organic castor oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Put a drop or two of a 100% organic castor oil in each eye.
  2. In case of unavailability of pure castor oil, you can also use lubricating eye drops made of castor oil.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times daily.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut contains fatty acids, like capric acid and lauric acid, that are beneficial for your skin. They are also extremely moisturizing and anti-inflammatory and can hence be used to provide instant lubrication to dry and itchy eyes (3).

You Will Need

A few drops of 100% organic virgin coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Put a few drops of 100% organic virgin coconut oil in both your eyes.
  2. Blink a few times and let your eyes absorb the oil.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this every morning and night.

3. Vitamins And Nutrients

Dry eye syndrome can also be a result of any vitamin deficiency. Studies have proved that the deficiency of vitamins D, B12, and A is related to the development of the condition (4), (5), (6).

Hence, include foods rich in these vitamins in your diet. Foods like egg yolks, orange juice, cereals, orange juice, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and butter are rich sources of vitamins D and A.

You can also increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like sardines, salmon, mackerel, spinach, soybeans, and chia seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids boost the production of the lubricating layer of your eyes (7). You can also take supplements for these nutrients after consulting your doctor.

4. Cucumber

Cucumbers are widely used for treating dry eyes. They are rich in water that helps soothe your eyes (8). They also contain vitamin A, the topical application of which is a proven remedy for dry eyes (9).

You Will Need

1 cucumber

What You Have To Do
  1. Cut a chilled cucumber into round slices.
  2. Place them on closed eyes for immediate relief.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times daily to relax and soothe your eyes.

5. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is a great way to relieve dry and inflamed eyes due to its relaxing and calming effects and natural anti-inflammatory and soothing properties  (10), (11). It can help replenish the lost moisture in the eyes and reduce the irritation caused by the condition.

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile herb
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Cotton pads
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of dried chamomile herb to a cup of hot water.
  2. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Strain and cool it in a refrigerator.
  4. Take a couple of cotton pads and dip them in the chilled tea.
  5. Place them on your closed eyes and leave them on for 10 to 15 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 3-4 times daily until you obtain relief.

6. Fennel Seeds Tea

Fennel seeds contain anethole, an organic compound. The presence of anethole, flavonoids, and phenolics imparts anti-inflammatory and soothing properties to fennel seeds (12), (13). The anti-inflammatory activities of fennel seeds can help in reducing the inflammation and irritability, and their soothing properties can be used to retain moisture in your eyes.

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • Cotton pads
What You Have To Do
  1. Steep a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Allow it to cool a bit.
  3. Dip two cotton pads in the warm fennel tea and place them on your eyes.
  4. Leave them on for at least 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times daily.

7. Yogurt

All dairy products, including yogurt, are known to benefit dry eyes. It is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin D (14). The consumption of these vitamins is proven to improve and treat dry eye syndrome naturally.

You Will Need

1 cup of plain yogurt

What You Have To Do

Have a cup of plain yogurt.

How Often You Should Do This

Consume yogurt at least once daily.

8. Aloe Vera

The benefits of aloe vera are no secret. Aloe vera contains bioactive compounds like ethanol and ethyl acetate that exhibit anti-inflammatory and healing properties (15), (16). These properties can prove to be quite helpful in treating dry eye and its symptoms. In addition to this, aloe vera is also a natural antioxidant that can protect your eyes from free radical damage (17).

Caution: Make sure that it does not get inside your eyes as it can irritate.

You Will Need

Aloe vera gel

What You Have To Do

Take a little aloe vera gel and apply it to your eyelids.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times daily.

9. Essential Oils

a. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic properties  (18). Dry eyes often result in irritation, and lavender oil can provide instant soothing and relief from it.

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • A clean washcloth
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and dip a clean washcloth into this solution.
  3. Wring out the excess water and place it on your eyes.
  4. Keep it on for 5 to 10 minutes and then repeat the process.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times daily.

b. Chamomile Oil

The properties of chamomile essential oil are quite similar to that of chamomile tea. It has anti-inflammatory properties (19). The oil is also widely used to treat allergic skin conditions like dermatitis (20). Hence, it may help relieve dry eyes as well.

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of chamomile oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • A clean washcloth
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of chamomile oil to a cup of warm water.
  2. Mix well and dip a clean washcloth into this solution.
  3. Place this over your closed eyelids and leave it on for 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times a day.

10. Olive Oil

Olive oil contains fatty acids, like oleic acid and linoleic acid  (21). It also exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (22). Hence, it may help in lubricating and replenishing the lost moisture in your eyes and reduce irritation and inflammation.

You Will Need

A few drops of virgin olive oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a few drops of virgin olive oil on your fingertips.
  2. Massage it gently on your closed eyelids and cover them with your hands for a couple of minutes.
  3. Do not wash off the oil. Allow it to be absorbed by your skin naturally.
How Often You Should Do This

You can repeat this process 2-3 times daily.

11. Fish Oil

Fish oil is one of the best remedies to treat dry eyes naturally. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, as discussed earlier, help promote vision and retinal health (23), (24). However, make sure you consult your doctor before taking these supplements.

You Will Need

1000-1200 mg of fish oil supplements

What You Have To Do

Consume two capsules of 1000-1200 mg fish oil capsules.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

12. Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. It contains alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is converted into two different omega-3 acids, called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both these omega-3 fatty acids can help treat dry eye and its symptoms (25).

A study found that supplementation with flaxseed oil(1-2 g/day) helped reduce dryness of the conjunctiva in people with Sjögren’s syndrome (26). Sjögren’s syndrome is a condition characterized by dry eyes and mouth.

You can also increase your intake of flaxseeds for added benefits. Flaxseed supplements are also available. It is recommended that you consult a physician before going ahead with flaxseed oil supplements.

13. Green Tea Extract

The topical application of green tea extract can help in treating dry eyes (27). The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea exhibits anti-inflammatory activities that can help inhibit the inflammation that often accompanies a dry eye. Green tea extract is also a natural antioxidant and can prevent further irritation of your eyes.

You Will Need
  • 1-2 green tea bags
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Cotton pads
What You Have To Do
  1. Put the green tea bags in a cup of hot water.
  2. Let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Allow it to cool a bit.
  4. Dip two cotton pads into the green tea and place them on your closed eyelids.
  5. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes and then repeat the procedure.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times daily.

14. Honey

Honey gels and eye drops are widely used to treat many ocular ailments (28). The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can help treat dry eyes and also prevent further infection (29). A study showed that honey eye drops could reduce the symptoms of dry eye in contact lens wearers (30).

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of 100% organic honey
  • 1/2 cup of preboiled and cooled water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of 100% organic water to half a cup of preboiled and cooled water.
  2. Mix well and put 1-2 drops of this solution into your eyes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times daily.

15. Hot Compress

The moisture and warmth of hot compresses can help increase the thickness of the tear film, thus relieving dry eyes (31).

You Will Need
  • A clean cloth
  • A bowl of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak a clean cloth in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Wring the excess water and place the soaked cloth on your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this multiple times daily.

When To See Your Doctor

If these remedies do not offer relief even after continued use, consult your healthcare provider immediately to avoid any serious eye conditions. Ask your doctor for prescribed eye ointments or drops for immediate relief.

These remedies can help you manage dry eyes with their natural healing properties. Listed below are a few preventive tips that can speed up your recovery and prevent the recurrence of this condition.

Best Tips For Preventing Dry Eyes

  • Avoid exposing your eyes to dry air and strong winds.
  • Use a humidifier inside your house.
  • Take breaks during long hours of visual activity.
  • Use artificial tears to keep your eyes moist.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid the glare coming from computers or cellphones. Use anti-glare glasses.
  • Increase your intake of omega-3 rich foods.

These home remedies for dry eyes can help relieve the condition. However, if the irritation becomes too difficult for you to handle, consult your physician immediately.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

What are the best eye drops for dry eyes?

Using eye drops made with natural ingredients like castor oil or honey is the best and safe way to treat dry eyes.

Can drinking water help with dry eyes?

Yes, drinking enough water can help with dry eyes because this syndrome may also be a symptom of dehydration, especially in hot and dry weather.

What foods are good for dry eyes?

Foods like carrots, salmon, tuna, sardine, mackerel, and other foods rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids are good for dry eyes.

Can dry eye affect your vision?

Yes. In some cases, the condition can irritate your eyes to such an extent that you may experience blurred vision.

31 sources

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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