Dry eye syndrome (also known as DES) is surprisingly common; it is one of the top reasons Americans visit the eye doctor!
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
- Stinging red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, your eyes aren’t producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated. Over the counter eye drops (also called artificial tears) can help bring relief, but it can be a pain to always be reaching for the eye drops! Your eye doctor may also provide a topical steroid eye drop or cream that can help your eyes retain moisture.
Here are some natural remedies you can try to soothe your dry eyes:
- Make sure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. How do they help? They reduce inflammation that may be keeping tears from reaching your eyes. Getting 2350 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids each week can make a big difference — a recent study in women with dry eye syndrome found that a whopping 68% saw improvement with a diet change. You can get your omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form or in your diet.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. While you sleep, the tear film is being replenished. (The tear film is a layer of mucous, oil, and water that protects and hydrates the eye.) Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Make sure air from fans and heaters isn’t blowing directly onto your face — that can be very drying. Run a humidifier if your air is dry.
If your dry eye syndrome doesn’t respond to over the counter, natural, or prescription treatments, you do have another option. For almost four decades, eye doctors have been treating dry eye syndrome with punctal plugs — silicone plugs that are inserted into your tear drainage ducts. That keeps tears from escaping and helps your eyes retain moisture. The insertion is quick and easy and is performed as an outpatient procedure. Punctal plugs can be temporary or permanent.