7 At-Home Items to Ease Dry Eye

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • If your eyes burn, itch or feel gritty, you may be experiencing dry eye. This common condition flares up when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears. This leaves your eyes unlubricated and uncomfortable. Many substances and situations can cause dry eye. It could be a medication you’re taking, time spent staring at your phone or computer, exposure to smoke, contact lenses or aging. Whatever the reason, it feels terrible. In addition to the generous use of artificial tears and ocular lubricants, you may want to try these at-home natural remedies with items you in your cupboard.

  • 1
    Warm Compress
    towel rolled up on bathroom counter

    Putting a warm compress on your eyes increases circulation to the area and stimulates the production of tears. It also soothes your eye irration by releasing oil in your eyelid’s glands, improving the quality of your tears. Soak a lint-free cloth with warm water, wring it out and hold it over your eyes for no more than ten minutes. If the compress gets cool, rewet it with more warm water. When you’re done, give your eyes a quick rinse with lukewarm water. Do this twice a day for several days until your eyes feel better.

  • 2
    Eyelid Wash
    woman washing eyes and face in bathroom with towel on head

    Keeping your eyelids clean is another way to help your body produce better quality tears. And good news—washing your eyelids is easy. Use a gentle cleanser like baby shampoo. Rub a little between your fingertips to create suds. Close your eyes and gently massage the soap into the base of your eyelids, near your eyelashes. Keeping your eyes closed, rinse your eyes with warm water. Repeat this morning and night to relieve and prevent dry eyes.

  • 3
    Omega-3 Oils
    Young woman holding vitamin pill and glass of water

    A lack of essential fatty acids in your diet can cause dry eyes. Studies show eating omega-3 fatty acids may stimulate tear production and create quality tears that lubricate your eyes more effectively. Many people get dry eye relief by supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in foods like salmon, sardines, anchovies, and flax seeds. You can also take fish oil capsules or other omega-3 supplements.

  • 4
    Coconut Oil
    spoonful of coconut oil on jar

    Do you have any coconut oil in your cupboard? This is a great rewetting agent for dry eyes because it creates a protective layer over the tear film layers to reduce evaporation. It can also reduce inflammation that irritates your eyes. Simply soak a cotton ball in coconut oil and place it directly on your closed eyelid. You can do this several times a day until you dry eyes feel better.

  • 5

    Research has shown that caffeine may ease dry eyes by increasing production in the tear glands. You do have to be careful if you are sensitive to caffeine, because too much can make you jittery and cause insomnia. But if you tolerate caffeine well, increase your intake a bit to see if it helps your dry eyes. Participants in the study consumed capsules with 200 mg to 600 mg of caffeine, depending on their weight. That’s the equivalent of 2 to 6 cups of coffee.

  • 6

    If a topical remedy doesn’t help, you may need to change your environment. Stay away from cigarette or cigar smoke, use a humidifier in the winter and avoid sitting directly in front of fans and air conditioners.

  • 7

    When you’re outdoors, especially on windy days, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect the fronts and sides of your eyes. This will keep them from drying out or coming into contact with debris.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 2
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Remedies to Reduce
    Dry Eye Symptoms. American Academy of Opthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/dry-eye-tips
  2. Dry eyes? Try this!
    Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/dry-eyes-try-this
  3. Mayo Clinic Q and A:
    Relief for your dry eyes. Mayo Clinic. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-relief-for-your-dry-eyes/
  4. 5 Ways to Say
    Goodbye to Dry Eye. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-ways-to-say-goodbye-to-dry-eye/