Dry eyes can be the result of many things, from diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis to blocked oil ducts to an eyelid issue like ectropion. Most of these issues have no cure, only potential treatments -- and sometimes those don’t work or have serious potential side effects. There are, however, many things you can do at home to make your eyes if not perfect, at least a little relieved.
Hold Onto the Moisture You Have
The ultimate goal of most dry eye treatments, at home or at the doctor, is to retain or add moisture. If you live in a dry climate, it may be exacerbating the issue; likewise, air tends to be drier in the winter, particularly indoors where heaters are constantly running. To alleviate some of this climatic dryness, try a humidifier. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air, and can help much more than just your eyes.
Since there’s not much you can do about dryness out of doors, try to avoid going out on particularly windy days. If you go skiing, drive a convertible, or engage in other outdoor activities that result in high levels of wind blowing in your face, make sure to wear goggles. During activities that involve focus but not wind, like reading, surfing the internet, or driving, make a conscious effort to blink frequently, as not blinking enough can also interfere with sufficient moisture. You can also ask your doctor about special contact lenses designed to hold moisture on the surface of the eye.
Put More Moisture In Your Body
One of the most important things you can do to help alleviate dry eyes is to stay hydrated. If your body doesn’t have enough water anyway, you’re definitely going to have more trouble making tears. The more moisture you have in your body, the more moisture your body can put out.
A little change in your diet might go a long way as well. Research in 2005 showed omega-3 fatty acids seemed to benefit women with dry eye, while a 2013 study suggests that increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may help alleviate dry eyes and the symptoms associated with them. Omega-3s tend to help with various kinds of inflammation; this seems to suggest the inclusion of ocular inflammation as well as other inflammation around the body. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, walnuts, soybean oil, and flax seeds, among other things.
Try Over the Counter Alternatives
If these changes don’t help, you may have to opt for over the counter options, such as artificial tears. These can be extremely helpful, and will not only relieve dry eyes, but help reduce the symptoms associated with it as well, such as redness. One important note to make about using eye drops is that if they have preservatives in them (and most do), using more than a few drops more than four times a day may actually exacerbate symptoms.
If nothing seems to help, it might be time to talk to your doctor or ophthalmologist about further steps you can take -- and to make sure you don’t have something more serious going on. If you suspect medications you are taking might be the culprit, talk to your doctor about alternative prescriptions with less irritating side effects.