Red, Itchy Eyes? How to Relieve Dry Eye Syndrome 9 Natural Ways
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Red, Itchy Eyes? How to Relieve Dry Eye Syndrome 9 Natural Ways

Dr. Josh Axe — Food is Medicine
Feb 27, 2018

One of the most common eye problems, dry eye syndrome is more prevalent than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Dry eyes are caused when there is insufficient tear production, or the quality of tears is poor. Tears are an integral part of eye health, and without adequate tear production you can be at risk for a scratched cornea, corneal ulcers and eye infections as the tears aren’t washing away particulates and germs. (1) The severity of symptoms can vary widely depending on the season, the time of day, environmental or allergen issues and even the amount of time spent looking at computers, tablets or phones.

According to the National Institutes for Health’s, National Eye Institute, millions of adults in the United States have troubling symptoms. (23)

There are a variety of underlying health conditions, as well as many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed medications, that can lead to dry eyes. Getting to the root cause of poor tear production can help to find the best and most effective treatment.  For example, if a certain medication is causing the problem, switching to a different medication may relieve the symptoms.

There are a variety of underlying health conditions, as well as many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed medications, that can lead to dry eyes. Getting to the root cause of poor tear production can help to find the best and most effective treatment.  For example, if a certain medication is causing the problem, switching to a different medication may relieve the symptoms.

However, for some people, symptoms may last a lifetime. This can be true for those who have underlying medical conditions like blepharitis, Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, certain thyroid disorders or a vitamin A deficiency.  As dry eye syndrome is estimated to affect anywhere from 5 percent to 30 percent of the population age 50 or older, and it is often chronic, finding an effective treatment is vital.

Conventional treatments often include eye drops or medications to spur tear production and there are several surgical options available for those experiencing moderate-to-severe symptoms. In addition to these options, there are a number of natural treatments for dry eye syndrome that may help relieve the dryness that causes the itching, burning, aching, sensitivity to light and blurred vision that affects so many with this condition.

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition caused by a poor quality of tears or an inadequate quantity of tears. Tears are necessary to keep the surface of the eye properly lubricated, keeping it moist and free from dust and other particulates.

In healthy eyes, basal tears continuously wet the cornea with every blink. This nourishes the cornea and provides a liquid layer of protection from a variety of environmental factors. When glands fail to produce enough tears, eye health and vision may become compromised. Tears on the surface of the eye also play a vital role in focusing light. Dryness of the eye may cause focusing and overall vision problems. (4)

Tears are composed of water, mucus, fatty oils and over 1,500 different proteins that lubricate the eye. Along with inadequate production of tears, if the composition of the tears becomes imbalanced, dry eye symptoms may occur.

The risk for developing dry eye syndrome increases with age, and women have a higher prevalence of this condition compared to men. Certain medications and certain underlying health conditions may cause it, resulting in the bothersome symptoms including scratchy, burning, itchy, red, weeping and tearing eyes.

9 Natural Ways to Relieve Dry Eye Syndrome

1. Limit Screen Time.

The more time you spend looking at a screen, the greater the risk for developing dry eyes. If you must spend prolonged time using a computer, tablet or phone, take periodic breaks to help reduce eye strain and dry eyes.

Look away from the screen every 15 to 20 minutes and focus on something nearby, then something at a mid-range distance and then something farther away in the distance, and then return your focus to your starting point. Before each transition, blink two to three times to lubricate your eyes. Also, the position of the screen is very important. Keep the center of the screen just below eye level so you don’t have to open your eyes as wide. This may help you keep more moisture in your eyes by slowing the evaporation of tears.

2. Wear Sunglasses. 

When you are outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from dust and the wind that can cause tears to evaporate...

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