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Prescription-free ways to soothe symptoms of dry eye.

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Every time you blink, your natural tears keep your eyes hydrated and healthy. But if you have dry eye, your eyes don’t produce enough tears. Uncomfortable dryness can result from working at a computer for long periods and not blinking frequently enough, while more serious cases of chronic dry eye or dry eye syndrome can include symptoms like a “gritty” feeling, burning, and irritation. At worst, dry eye can be accompanied by inflammation and lead to scarring of the cornea, and even vision loss (Note: if you experience eye pain or changes in vision, consult a doctor). Common culprits of dry eye include certain medications, age and related hormonal changes, and medical conditions including diabetes.

Essential Fatty Acids

In one particularly noteworthy study published in Cornea, 36 patients with dry eye syndrome were given either placebos or omega-3 fatty acids (which consisted of 450 mg of EPA, 300 mg of DHA, and 1,000 mg of flaxseed oil) daily for three months. Remarkably, 70% of those taking the omega-3s experienced an improvement in their dry eye symptoms versus only 7% of the control group.

Another study that examined the effects of sea buckthorn oil on dry eye, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that people ages 20 to 70 with dry eye who took 2 gm of sea buckthorn oil for 3 months experienced less redness and burning, and less tear evaporation from the eyes. Sea buckthorn oil is rich in omega-7, omega-9, omega-6, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps protect the cornea and is essential to good vision. What’s more, a deficiency in this vitamin can cause and exacerbate dry eye. Eye drops containing vitamin A have been shown to be effective for dry eye. A trial involving 50 patients with dry eye, published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, concluded that vitamin A drops administered four times daily were an effective treatment for dry eye disorder.

Homeopathic Drops

Homeopathic eye drops can quickly help reduce the irritation associated with dry eye and assist in lubricating the surface of the eye. These drops, containing diluted amounts of active medicine, are formulated to temporarily relieve dryness, redness, and grittiness, and can be used anytime for instant relief. Best of all, they are safe and side-effect-free.

Jennifer Martin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

Caffeine for Dry Eye?

That cup o’ joe in the morning might benefit your dry eye. Caffeine can significantly increase the eye’s ability to produce tears, according to
researchers at the University of Tokyo’s School of Medicine. Study participants received either caffeine tablets or a placebo, and tear volume was measured after 45 minutes. All participants who consumed caffeine produced significantly more tears compared to those who took the placebo.

Quick Fix for Eyestrain

Apply a cool compress of chickweed, eyebright, or marigold extract over the eyes for 10-15 minutes.

From The Healing Remedies Sourcebook by C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD

Good Buys:

NORDIC NATURALS Omega Vision provides concentrated omega-3 fish oil shown to alleviate dryness, pain, and redness, plus eye protective nutrients.

ECOLOGICAL FORMULAS Beta Carotene drops deliver 10,000 IU of beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) per drop. Take 1–4 drops daily.

SIMILASAN Dry Eye Relief homeopathic drops immediately soothe the discomfort of dry eye, including redness, grittiness, and sensitivity to light.