Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when your eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. This can lead to discomfort, a burning sensation, and even blurry vision. Understanding the causes and symptoms of dry eyes can help you find effective solutions to relieve your discomfort.

Causes of Dry Eyes

There are several factors that can contribute to dry eyes. Aging is a common cause, as tear production tends to decrease as we get older. Certain medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, can also dry out your eyes. Environmental factors, like dry air and wind, can further exacerbate the condition. Additionally, medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders can contribute to dry eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes

Recognizing the symptoms of dry eyes is crucial in addressing the issue. Common symptoms include a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes, redness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and a feeling of grittiness or foreign body sensation in the eyes. Experiencing any of these symptoms can be bothersome, but there are preventative measures and lifestyle changes you can implement to alleviate them.

Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Prevention Measures

Prevention is key when it comes to managing dry eyes. By adopting certain habits and making lifestyle changes, you can reduce the occurrence and severity of dry eyes.

Maintain Proper Eye Hygiene

Practicing good eye hygiene can help keep your eyes healthy and moisturized. This includes regularly cleaning your eyelids and eyelashes with a gentle cleanser or warm water. By keeping these areas clean, you can prevent blockages in the glands that produce tears and promote overall eye health.

Use a Humidifier

Using a humidifier in your home or office can add moisture to the air, helping to prevent your eyes from drying out. Dry indoor environments, especially during the winter months or in air-conditioned spaces, can contribute to dry eyes. A humidifier can help counteract this by increasing the humidity levels in the air.

Avoid Dry Environments

Whenever possible, try to avoid spending extended periods of time in dry environments. If you must be in a dry setting, such as a heated room or an airplane cabin, consider using a wraparound pair of glasses or protective eyewear. This can help shield your eyes from the direct airflow, reducing evaporation and maintaining moisture.

Take Frequent Breaks from Screens

If you spend a significant amount of time staring at screens, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, or television, you may be at an increased risk of developing dry eyes. Taking regular breaks and giving your eyes a chance to rest and blink more frequently can prevent dryness. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can aggravate dry eyes and worsen existing symptoms. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can irritate the eyes and contribute to tear evaporation. Quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to smoke can benefit not only your eye health but your overall well-being.

Protect Your Eyes from Wind and Sun

Windy environments can quickly dry out your eyes. When you’re outdoors on a windy day, consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear to shield your eyes from the wind. Similarly, wearing sunglasses with UV protection can protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun and reduce the risk of dryness.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential for overall health, including the health of your eyes. Proper hydration promotes tear production and can help prevent dry eyes. Make it a habit to drink enough water throughout the day, especially in dry or arid climates.

Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit dry eyes. Include foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish (like salmon and sardines), flaxseeds, and chia seeds, in your diet. If you are unable to consume enough omega-3s through your diet alone, consider speaking with your healthcare provider about omega-3 supplements.

Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to preventative measures, making certain lifestyle changes can also help alleviate the discomfort of dry eyes.

Blink Regularly

When you’re engrossed in a task or staring at a screen, you might forget to blink as often as necessary. Blinking helps distribute tears across your eyes and keeps them moisturized. Make a conscious effort to blink regularly, especially when engaged in activities that require focused visual attention.

Modify Your Workstation

Your workstation can play a significant role in your eye health. Ensure that your computer monitor is at an appropriate distance and height to reduce eye strain. Position your monitor slightly below eye level to encourage more complete blinking and reduce the chance of dryness. Adjust the angle of your screen to minimize glare and reflections, which can also strain your eyes.

Use Proper Lighting

Proper lighting is crucial in reducing eye strain and dryness. Avoid harsh, bright overhead lighting and instead opt for softer, indirect lighting. Position your desk or workspace near a window to take advantage of natural light. If you require additional lighting, choose desk lamps or adjustable light fixtures that allow you to control the intensity and direction of light.

Adjust Your Screen Display Settings

Adjusting the display settings on your screens can also help prevent dry eyes. Increase the text size and contrast to reduce the strain on your eyes when reading. Additionally, consider using the “night mode” or blue light filter settings available on many devices. These settings reduce the amount of blue light emitted, which is known to cause eye fatigue and dryness.

Wear Sunglasses

Protective eyewear, such as sunglasses with built-in UV protection, can provide a barrier between your eyes and environmental factors that contribute to dryness. When you’re outdoors, especially in sunny or windy conditions, wearing sunglasses can help shield your eyes and prevent excessive tear evaporation.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise brings numerous benefits to your overall health, including your eye health. Engaging in aerobic activities, like brisk walking or cycling, can improve blood circulation throughout your body, including to your eyes. This increased circulation helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your eyes, promoting their overall health and reducing the risk of dryness.

Eye Drops and Medications

In addition to preventative measures and lifestyle changes, there are various eye drops and medications available to relieve dry eyes. Depending on the severity and underlying cause of your condition, different options may be recommended.

Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

Over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are a common go-to remedy for dry eyes. These eye drops work by lubricating the eyes and providing temporary relief from dryness. They are widely available without a prescription and can be used as needed to alleviate discomfort.

Prescription Eye Drops

If over-the-counter eye drops do not provide sufficient relief, your eye doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops. These prescription-strength eye drops contain ingredients that can target the underlying causes of your dry eyes, such as inflammation or inadequate tear production. It is important to follow your eye doctor’s instructions and recommendations when using prescription eye drops.

Topical Medications

In some cases, topical medications in the form of ointments or gels may be prescribed to help manage dry eyes. These medications are typically applied to the eyelid or the area around the eye and can provide longer-lasting relief compared to eye drops. However, they may cause temporary blurred vision, so it is important to use them as directed.

Oral Medications

For individuals with severe dry eye symptoms or underlying medical conditions contributing to dry eyes, oral medications may be prescribed. These medications can help address the systemic causes of dry eyes and provide relief from chronic dryness. Your doctor will assess your individual needs and determine if oral medications are a suitable option for you.

Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Natural Remedies

In addition to conventional treatments, there are several natural remedies that can provide relief from dry eyes. While not scientifically proven, many people find these remedies helpful in managing their symptoms.

Warm Compress

Applying a warm compress to your closed eyes can help stimulate tear production and relieve dryness. The warmth helps to improve circulation around the eyes and unclog blocked oil glands. To use a warm compress, soak a clean cloth in warm water, wring out the excess water, and place it gently over your closed eyes for 5-10 minutes.

Cold Compress

Similar to a warm compress, a cold compress can also provide relief from dry eyes. Cold compresses can help reduce inflammation and soothe irritated eyes. Simply wrap a few ice cubes or a cold pack in a clean cloth and hold it gently against your closed eyes for a few minutes.

Castor Oil

Using castor oil as an eye lubricant can help relieve dryness and discomfort. Before applying castor oil to your eyes, make sure it is 100% pure and free from any additives or preservatives. Use a clean dropper to apply a small amount of castor oil to the corner of your eye and let it spread naturally when you blink. It is advisable to do this before bedtime, as your vision may be slightly blurred immediately after application.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. Applying a small amount of aloe vera gel to the outer corners of your closed eyes can provide relief from dryness and irritation. Make sure to choose a pure and natural aloe vera gel without any added fragrances or alcohol.

Cucumber Slices

Cucumber slices have a cooling and hydrating effect on the eyes. Place chilled cucumber slices over your closed eyes for 10-15 minutes. The natural moisture and antioxidants in the cucumber can help soothe and refresh your eyes, reducing dryness and discomfort.

Green Tea Bags

Green tea bags can be used as a compress to alleviate dry eyes. Steep two green tea bags in hot water for a few minutes, then allow them to cool down. Place the cooled tea bags over your closed eyes for 10-15 minutes. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea can help reduce eye inflammation and promote tear production.

Hygiene Practices

Practicing good hygiene is essential for managing and preventing dry eyes. Adopting these hygiene practices can help keep your eyes clean and reduce the risk of eye irritation.

Clean Eyelids and Eyelashes

Cleaning your eyelids and eyelashes regularly can prevent the buildup of debris and bacteria that can contribute to eye irritation. Use a gentle cleanser or warm water and a clean cloth or cotton pad to cleanse the base of your eyelashes and the margin of your eyelids. Be gentle to avoid any damage to the delicate skin and tissues around your eyes.

Remove Eye Makeup Properly

When removing eye makeup, be sure to use a gentle, oil-free makeup remover. Avoid rubbing or tugging at your eyes, as this can cause additional irritation. Instead, soak a cotton pad with the makeup remover, gently press it against your closed eyelids for a few seconds, and then wipe away the makeup in a gentle downward motion.

Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Avoiding Irritants

Certain habits and environmental factors can irritate your eyes and worsen dryness. By being mindful of these potential irritants, you can minimize the risk of exacerbating your symptoms.

Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

Although it may provide temporary relief, rubbing your eyes can actually make dryness worse. Rubbing can cause further irritation and inflammation, leading to increased discomfort. Instead, use a clean cloth or tissue to gently pat or wipe your eyes when necessary.

Limit Screen Time

Staring at screens for prolonged periods of time can strain your eyes and contribute to dryness. To reduce the risk, take regular breaks and practice the 20-20-20 rule mentioned earlier. Additionally, consider adjusting the brightness and contrast settings on your screens to make them more comfortable for your eyes.

Avoid Air Conditioning and Fans

Air conditioning and fans can create dry and drafty environments that can quickly dry out your eyes. When using these cooling devices, try to direct the airflow away from your face or body. If possible, use a humidifier alongside the air conditioning to maintain a more balanced humidity level.

When to Seek Medical Help

While many cases of dry eyes can be managed with preventative measures and basic treatments, it is important to know when it’s time to seek medical help.

Persistent Dry Eyes

If you have tried various preventative measures and self-care measures but are still experiencing persistent dry eyes, it may be a sign of an underlying condition or other eye health issues. In this case, it is important to consult with an eye doctor who can assess your condition and provide appropriate treatment.

Severe Eye Discomfort

If you are experiencing severe eye discomfort, pain, or a sudden worsening of dry eye symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. These symptoms could indicate a more serious issue that requires immediate evaluation and treatment.

Changes in Vision

If you notice any changes in your vision, such as blurred vision or sudden changes in focus, it is important to have your eyes examined by an eye care professional. Changes in vision can be a sign of underlying eye conditions that may need to be addressed to alleviate your dry eye symptoms.

Tips for Relieving Dry Eyes

Professional Treatments

In some cases, professional treatments may be necessary to manage severe or chronic dry eyes. These treatments are typically offered by eye care specialists and tailored to suit your specific needs.

Artificial Tear Inserts

Artificial tear inserts, also known as punctal plugs, are tiny devices inserted into the tear ducts to block the drainage of tears. By keeping more natural tears in the eyes, these inserts can help maintain moisture and relieve dryness. Depending on the severity of your dry eye condition, your eye doctor may recommend temporary or permanent punctal plugs.

Punctal Plugs

Similar to artificial tear inserts, punctal plugs are small silicone or gel-like plugs inserted into the tear ducts to block tear drainage. This helps to retain moisture on the surface of the eyes and alleviate dryness. Punctal plugs come in different sizes and can be temporary or permanent, depending on your needs.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that uses pulses of light to improve the function of the oil-producing glands in the eyelids. By stimulating these glands, IPL therapy can help improve the overall health and function of the tear film, reducing dryness and discomfort.


LipiFlow is a specialized treatment for dry eyes caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). During the LipiFlow procedure, a device is used to apply gentle heat and pressure to the eyelids, helping to unclog and restore the function of the meibomian glands. This treatment can provide long-lasting relief for individuals with MGD-related dry eyes.

Amniotic Membrane Transplantation

Amniotic membrane transplantation is a surgical procedure that involves placing a thin layer of amniotic membrane over the surface of the eye. This membrane contains healing properties and can help reduce inflammation and promote tissue regeneration. Amniotic membrane transplantation is typically reserved for severe cases of dry eyes and is performed by an ophthalmologist.


Dry eyes can be a persistent and uncomfortable condition, but there are various preventative measures, lifestyle changes, and treatments that can provide relief. By understanding the causes and symptoms of dry eyes, as well as implementing the recommended strategies, you can effectively manage your condition and maintain healthy, moisturized eyes. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to consult with an eye care professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment. Take care of your eyes, and enjoy a life free from the discomfort of dry eyes!


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