Dry eye is fast becoming one of the most frequently seen eye conditions at optometry practices. Studies show that 10 to 15% of the population have dry eye and some estimates are even higher.
The Eye Practice has expertise in diagnosing and treating all forms of dry eye – even stubborn cases that haven’t responded to treatment in the past.
Dry Eye Remedies
Many of our dry eye treatments are done in-house and involve some very high-tech pieces of equipment. But not all dry eye treatment needs to be as sophisticated. Sometimes, simple, relatively inexpensive remedies can be effective in reducing symptoms. It’s never as good as the professional treatment but certainly a lot better than nothing. The use of dry eye drops alone is often insufficient to manage dry eye and there is even cause to think they may actually worsen your condition.
The following are some dry eye remedies that you can try at home. How much relief they give will depend on the root cause of your dry eye.
1. Add a nutritional supplement
Don’t have time to eat as well as you would like to? Add a nutritional supplement. You’re probably aware that Omega 3s are good for your health, but did you know they are also good for your dry eyes? We recommend and stock TheraTears Nutrition and Lacritec. These supplements combine omega 3s with micronutrients such as zinc to boost the body’s ability to produce good tears from within.
2. Warm compresses and lid massage
As much as 70% of dry eye is believed to be evaporative in nature. What this means is that the underlying cause is not caused by a lack of watery tears (the ones that run when you cry or cut an onion) but a lack of oily tears. These oily tears are produced in a row of glands along the edge of each eyelid and the glands are prone to blocking in many people. The reasons for the oil glands becoming blocked are varied and can include hormonal changes (such as in pregnancy or menopause) and certain skin conditions (such as acne rosacea).
The glands can become blocked as the oils become thicker and waxier and the trick is to clear out the blockages and allow the oil to flow again. Nothing beats an in-house treatment such as LipiFlow, which uses heat and movement to gently and effectively express the glands. But a good home remedy is to apply a warm compress to the eyes for 10 minutes before you go to bed. A gentle heated gel pack or wheat back is ideal, with a clean tissue placed across the closed eyes before applying. Lie back in your favourite armchair, crank up the sounds and enjoy! This is very relaxing…
For a more effective treatment, add a lid massage after the heat pack. Using your fingertips, gently massage your eyelids towards the eyelashes. You are aiming to gently squeeze the thickened oil out through the openings of the glands, right at the margins of your eyelids. This treatment is very effective if repeated daily for several weeks. Once symptoms have improved, you can then drop back to weekly maintenance sessions.
3. Lid scrubs
Keeping the eye lid margins scrupulously clean is very important for dry eye sufferers. It is common to get itchy, red and flaky lid margins and any residue collecting on the lash-line can harbour the bacteria that cause redness and irritation. We always recommend using a purpose designed product to gently and safely dissolve away the material that crusts along the edges of your lids. The Eye Practice stocks Sterilid and Blephadex for home use. The foamy solution is applied either with the fingertips or with the provided wipes (depending on the product). Like the warm compresses above, it is recommended to use lid scrubs daily for several weeks to get the problem under control and then ease back into a maintenance regime of once or twice a week.
At The Eye Practice, we often tell our dry eye patients that home remedies for dry eye are a bit like brushing your teeth, i.e. excellent for everyday maintenance but no substitute for a visit to the dentist once or twice a year for that thorough, professional clean. The home remedies mentioned above are a very complementary to the professional treatments we provide.