5 Remedies for Dry Eyes to Try

Dry eyes are a major source of irritation. It’s common in the elderly, but may arise from numerous, distinct reasons.

Woman closing her eyes tightly while leaning a few fingers on her left eyelid

Did you know that tears aren’t just an indicator of extreme emotions? They play a few essential roles in ensuring vision clarity and maintaining the health of the front surface of your eyes. However, you may be susceptible to dry eyes, impairing your quality of life. 

Here are the causes and symptoms of dry eye syndrome and ways to alleviate the condition effectively.

The Primary Reasons Behind Dry Eyes 

Man putting on spectacles as he looks at a mobile phone screen from a distance
Elderly people have a higher risk of experiencing eye irritation.

Old age is the most prevalent risk factor for this condition. In addition, dry eyes can stem from various other reasons, including:  

  • Gender  
  • Medication use 
  • Comorbid conditions 
  • Environmental conditions 

Insufficient tear production 

Tears come from several glands in and around the eyelids. Women are more prone to dry eyes due to hormonal changes. People who are over the age of 65, have diabetes, thyroid gland disorders or rheumatoid arthritis, or use specific medications may experience a decrease in tear production. Exposure to smoke, wind or a dry climate can also increase tear evaporation and lead to dry eyes. 

A lower quality of tears 

Generally, tears consist of three integral layers:  

  • A mucous-like component that transpires from goblet cells in the conjunctiva and covers the white part of the eye 
  • An oily component made by the meibomian glands in the eyelids 
  • A watery component generated by lacrimal glands that are located behind the outer aspect of the upper eyelids 

A smooth layer of oil helps prevent the water layer from evaporating. The mucin layer enables tears to spread evenly over the eye surface. Dry eye syndrome can arise from rapid evaporation, or an uneven tear spread. 

Organ system deficiencies 

Separately, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that the eyes relate directly to Liver and Kidney function. “The blood, qi (vital energy), and yin (passive energy) of these organ systems are responsible for nourishing the eyes,” explains Eu Yan Sang Physician Ng Qing Xiang.

Though, the Liver and Kidney are vulnerable to Deficiency syndromes. Physician Ng continues, “Liver Heat can bring about symptoms like constipation, dry eyes, scanty urine, a bitter taste in the mouth, or a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes. 

“Kidney yin Deficiency can also trigger dry eyes, giddiness, easily-fatigued eyes, lower back pain, ringing in the ears, and weakness in the lower limbs. Blood and qi Deficiency has a few symptoms similar to a Kidney yin Deficiency. It can also present as diarrhoea, fatigue, or a pale face.” 

5 Ways to Achieve Relief from Dry Eyes 

Woman looking up as she applies eye drops to her right eye
Steroid eye drops can alleviate dry eyes due to inflammation.

Multiple treatment options are available for the condition. Hence, a specialist may require a person to complete a questionnaire about their symptoms. In doing so, the specialist can use the answers as a baseline for treatment recommendations. The questionnaire will also be provided again after several weeks to determine the efficacy of the methods used.

Eye drops 

Frequent use of artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can treat mild cases of dry eyes. You must adhere to the directions of use proposed by the specialist. Also, refrain from substituting the brand of eye drops that they’re advocating for another. It’ll make it difficult to assess the success of treatment. 

To quickly manage dry eye symptoms that are associated with inflammation, you will be given steroid eye drops. A specialist must be aware of your medical history before prescribing them, as it has the potential to prompt side effects.

Punctal plugs 

A small, sterile device placed in a small opening of tear drainage ducts, punctal plugs enable tears to remain on the eye’s surface longer. 

Once an opening is plugged, tears will no longer flow away from the eyes. Consequently, the tear film will stay intact, thus relieving the symptoms of dry eyes. 

Meibomian gland expression 

A significant number of dry eye cases happen because the meibomian glands cannot secrete sufficient amounts of oil. To address meibomian gland dysfunction, a specialist may perform a procedure called meibomian gland expression.

Warm compresses will or will not be applied to the eyelids. Then, a forceps-like device will be used to extract hardened oil and other substances from the glands. To fully express the clogged contents, pressure too, must be applied to the eyelids. 

Herbal formulas and ingredients 

Elderly people are often diagnosed with Kidney yin Deficiency. As such, a TCM practitioner will endorse a herbal formula called qi ju di huang wan (杞菊地黄丸). It contains chrysanthemum (ju hua, 菊花) and goji berries (gou qi, 枸杞) which are beneficial for clearing Heat and nourishing the eyes.

Alternatively, a formula that uses marigold flower extract is suitable for all age groups and can help solve distinct eye disorders. Ingredients like Dendrobium (shi hu, 石斛) and Siberian Solomon’s Seal (huang jing, 黃精) can also be used to prepare herbal soup. Its consumption can invigorate the Kidney and Liver, improving eye health.

Acupoint stimulation 

Gentle massaging of the cuan zhu (BL2, 攒竹) and yu yao (EX-HN4, 魚腰) acupoints can help relieve dry or fatigued eyes. Cuan zhu ( BL2, 攒竹) is a depression at the inner ends of the eyebrows, while yu yao (EX-HN4, 余姚) is located at the midpoint of the eyebrow, directly above the pupils. Repeat 20 times. 

Recognising the aggravator of dry eyes can help you tackle the disorder early. If you wish to support clinical treatment with herbal formulas, speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand. It’ll help them identify safe ingredients for your body constitution, and you avert potential contraindications.

References

  1. AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. Dry eye. [online] [Accessed 31 March 2022] 
  1. All About Vision. Dry eyes: Causes, symptoms and treatments. [online] [Accessed 31 March 2022] 

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