When it comes to irritating body parts, dry eyes has to be up there as one of the worst. The feeling can range from itching to burning and often leaves the whites of the eyes bloodshot and red.
While you can treat dry eyes with drops or even special ointments there are a number of ways to do it naturally without breaking the bank or having to resort to medication.
Here’s what can dry out our eyes:
Watery eyes: Ironically, dry eyes can cause watery eyes. Our body knows when are eyes are dry and can overcompensate. It doesn’t leave you feeling lubricated – it can just irritate you more.
Menopause: As we know, hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, mood swings, fatigue, and headaches are all associated with menopause. But did you know that more than 60 per cent of women who experience these symptoms also experience dry eyes?
Tear production: As we age, our eyes naturally slow down their tear production despite tears continuing to be a important defence for our eyes. Tears not only wash dust away from our eyes, but also soothe them, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, and help defend against eye infections by washing away bacteria.
Medications: Dry eyes can be caused by some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, heart medications, antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and pain relievers. Drugs for Parkinson’s disease and gastric ulcers will also make your dry eye symptoms worse, as will hormone therapy, particularly oestrogen therapy.
Certain foods: Chocolate, some soft drinks, coffee, and tea all contain caffeine, which robs your body of moisture. Try avoiding or limiting these foods and drinks.
Computer use: In this digital age and as we work less and less, we tend to spend more time on our computers or backlit devices. These can dry out our eyes substantially.
So how do we prevent dry eyes? Here are some natural ways:
1. Drink water
Water is the best way to keep your body hydrated, especially if you live in dry, hot, or cold locations.
Running a humidifier in your home can increase the amount of moisture in the air, which is especially important if you live in arid heat.
By eating more cold-water fish like salmon, herring, cod, and sardines, you can get the dosage of Omega-3 fatty acids you need.
4. Warm compress
Apply a warm compress to your eyes to help unplug blocked tear glands.
5. Clean eyelids
Clean your eyelids with a mild wash of half water, half baby shampoo, and massage the base of your eyelashes when your eyes are closed. Rinse thoroughly.
6. Blink rapidly
Blinking spreads fluid across the surface of your eyeballs but when we look at a screen for a long period, our body can get so fixated it stops blinking as much. Make a point to blink regularly, especially when watching television, reading, or using a computer.
7. Calendula tea
Make up two cups of a combination of calendula petals and chamomile flowers – calendula for its antibacterial powers, and chamomile for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Drink one cup and relax while you wait for the other cup to cool down. When the second cup is still warm, use it as an eyewash by dipping a cotton swab or gauze pad into the tea and swabbing each eye from the inner to outer corner. Apply twice daily to both eyes.
Palming is a technique created by 20th century physician William Horatio Bates to help reduce eye strain and improve eyesight.
To try it, sit comfortably with both elbows on a table in front of you, forearms bent and the palm of each hand cupping over your closed eyes. Ensure that no light can get in and imagine looking at black cloth. Stay in this position for a few minutes or until you feel your eyes relax.
Turmeric is really a cure-all and is great for helping your dry eyes. Simply warm up some almond milk, sprinkle a teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cloves and finish with a drop of honey. Whisk together and drink slowly.
Paprika has an extremely high concentration of vitamin A, which is great for warding off dry eye symptoms and all you need to do is include it in your cooking.
Next time you try to rub your itchy, dry eyes, try a spearmint eyewash instead. Simply boil about 10-12 leaves of spearmint, then wait until it cools. Use a clean face cloth to apply the wash to your eyes. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint, stimulates tear production and will leave your eyes refreshed.
12. Castor oil
Instead of using over-the-counter solutions, simply go to your cupboard and grab some castor oil. Use a clean dropper to extract some of the oil and then apply to your dry eyes. This is a DIY home remedy but is totally safe and works quickly. Plus it’s free if you have some castor oil at home!