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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Ng Qing Xiang on July 4, 2022

Effective Tips For Soothing Dry Eyes At Home

Aside from putting drops in your eyes, what else can you do to address dry eyes? This guide may open your eyes to dry eye treatments you may not have considered before.

Dry eyes min scaled

Dry eyes are more than just irritating. They can also be dangerous if they impact your vision, especially while driving.

Many treatment options are available to reduce your symptoms. However, it’s important to find out what’s causing your dry eyes to get rid of the condition for good.

This guide discusses the reasoning behind your dry eyes and what you can do at home to help restore optimal vision and soothe discomfort.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes are common among older people due to medication use or other factors.

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, vitamin A deficiency, allergic eye disease, lupus, 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. 

Poor quality of tears

Generally, tears consist of three integral layers:  

  • A mucus-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

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 have a few symptoms similar to a Kidney Yin Deficiency. It can also present as diarrhea, fatigue, or a pale face.” 

How To Soothe Dry Eyes

Multiple treatment options are available for the condition. However, 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

Most people turn to eye drops when their eyes are dry. Be sure the brand you use does not contain harsh chemicals that could worsen the condition.

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 the specialist is 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.

Punctual plugs

Punctual plugs refer to a small, sterile device that is placed in a small opening of your tear drainage ducts. They 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 may 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 must also 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. It contains chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) and goji berries (Gou Qi), 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) and Siberian Solomon’s Seal (Huang Jing) can also be used to prepare herbal soup. Its consumption can invigorate the Kidney and Liver, improving eye health.

Acupressure

Gentle massaging of the Cuan Zhu (BL2) and Yu Yao (EX-HN4) acupoints can help relieve dry or fatigued eyes. Repeat 20 times. 

Recognizing 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 will help them identify suitable ingredients for your body constitution, and you avert potential contraindications.

Dry Eyes Can Be Mistaken For Pink Eye

Always be sure to consult a medical doctor or TCM physician before trying to treat dry eyes yourself. You may want to confirm that your condition is not due to an underlying condition, such as pink eye.

If you suffer from chronic dry eyes, then taking a vision supplement containing lutein and zeaxanthin may help nourish the eyes and protect your vision.

References

  1. AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. Dry eye
  2. All About Vision. Dry eyes: Causes, symptoms and treatments.  

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