Dry, gritty eyes? If you have dry eyes, you may be pondering eye drops vs home remedies. Do eye drops work for this condition? And what about dry eye home remedies? Can you rely on them?
In today’s post, we compare eye drops vs home remedies to help you choose the best treatment for dry eyes. But first, let’s start with an overview of this common condition that affects over 16 million people in the United States alone.
Understanding Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease occurs when the tear film that normally covers the surface of the eye doesn’t work properly. This happens if the tear glands don’t make enough tears. Or if there is an imbalance in the tear film. In addition to a watery layer, the tear film has oily and mucin layers.
Dry eye disease can have many causes including autoimmune disorders, hormonal changes, and certain medications. Aging is also a contributing factor. The tear glands produce fewer tears as we age.
The condition may also occur because of environmental factors that cause tears to evaporate faster. This may happen if you are exposed to wind or air conditioning. Or when there isn’t enough humidity in the environment.
Staring at screens can make dry eyes worse as it reduces blink rates while increasing the number of incomplete blinks. Greater screen time may explain why dry eye disease is increasingly affecting younger people. Recent studies report dry eye disease symptoms in 25% of high school students and as many as 60% of office workers.
Do Eye Drops Work for Dry Eyes?
Eye drops are commonly used to treat dry eyes. They are available over the counter as well as under a prescription. But how do eye drops work exactly?
Eye drops for dry eyes act as artificial tears that mimic the composition of natural tears. When you apply them, you resupply the surface of your eye with tears.
Doctors may also prescribe antibiotic eye drops such as bacitracin or erythromycin to kill some of the bacteria that destroy the lipid layer of the tear film.
However, eye drops don’t have the biologically active compounds found in natural tears. Another downside is that they may contain preservatives to increase their shelf life. Eye drops without preservatives are prone to contamination with bacteria, which may cause eye infections.
It may seem contradictory, but long-term use of eye drops can make dry eyes worse.
When using eye drops, you may also experience side effects like blurriness, irritation, and tearing. Another problem with artificial tears is that you may not be able to apply them safely and comfortably at work.
The thing to remember before using eye drops is that they don’t address the underlying causes of dry eyes. If a doctor prescribes them to you, it’s important to take them.
But they are not a simple solution to curing dry eyes. Overusing eye drops can make dry eyes worse in the long run.
Dry Eye Home Remedies
Natural remedies for dry eyes come in many forms. But it’s important to differentiate between those supported by science and those only backed by promises.
Researchers are currently investigating the potential benefits of herbs, fruits, and other home remedies on many eye disorders. For example, natural remedies such as bilberry and ginkgo biloba may help slow down or even prevent glaucoma, though more research is needed to prove this for certain.
While antibiotic eye drops may provide relief from dry eyes, home remedies for the condition may provide a more holistic remedy.
Dry eye disease resembles in some ways a chronic inflammatory disorder. Recent studies suggest that the gut and ocular microbiome could be gateways to more natural treatments that support the growth of healthy bacterial communities as a way to treat the condition.
While research in this field continues, here are some science-backed natural treatments for dry eyes you may want to consider.
- Red ginseng (Chinese ginseng) – Research indicates that eating red ginseng may improve symptoms of dry eye disease in patients with glaucoma. It may also help relieve discomfort caused by anti-glaucoma drops.
- Turmeric – Turmeric contains curcumin, extracts of which have anti-inflammatory effects on corneal epithelial cells and the conjunctiva.
- Green tea – A 2017 study found that green tea extract improved dry eye symptoms and tear gland function in patients with dry eye disease.
- Bilberries and blueberries – Anthocyanins in blueberries, bilberries, and other purple fruits and vegetables have powerful antioxidant effects. Participants in a study who took a bilberry extract reported better tear secretion.
Other home remedies for dry eyes that can provide relief and soothe symptoms include applying warm compresses and using a humidifier. Limiting screen time and blinking consciously are also important.
So, What Is the Best Treatment for Dry Eyes?
When it comes to eye drops vs home remedies, there’s no clear winner. Eye drops don’t miraculously cure dry eyes. Nor is there a single home remedy that will make the condition go away overnight.
But home remedies can help soothe symptoms and manage dry eyes, without the side effects of some eye drops. Natural treatments for dry eyes shouldn’t replace any medication that your eye doctor prescribes but complement it.
A natural treatment for dry eyes such as an eye health supplement can also help with dry eye disease. Not getting enough key eye health nutrients from your diet can affect tear gland function and the quality of your tear film. It can also make managing dry eyes from other causes more difficult.
Lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, and E are all crucial for eye health. If you’re not sure you’re getting enough of them from your diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement.
SightC from Sightsage is an eye health supplement informed by 30 years of clinical experience.
Made with goji berries, turmeric, and other natural ingredients, it provides a rich dose of antioxidants and phytonutrients that protect your eye cells from damage and support vision. It’s plant-based and sugar-free.
Whether you have mild dry eyes or more serious symptoms, a natural remedy could help.
Learn more about SightC.