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Can Plant-Based Oils Help Dry Eyes?

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Natural remedies can be great for treating ailments like an upset stomach or sunburn. But can plant-based oils soothe dry eyes?

Here’s what science has to say.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome (DES) occurs when the eyes chronically lack hydration. This happens when the tear film evaporates too quickly or it contains incorrect proportions of oil, water, and mucus.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES) can range from mild to debilitating and include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Stringy mucus discharge from the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • A sensation that something is stuck in the eyes

How DES is treated will depend on the underlying cause of the problem, which your optometrist will determine during a thorough eye examination.

Can Plant-Based Oils Soothe Dry Eyes?

Researchers have long known that a stable tear film lipid layer is crucial for managing and treating dry eyes. Several studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy and safety of plant-based oils for this purpose.

Over the past 2 decades, researchers have studied the benefits of castor oil on patients with dry eye syndrome. They found that castor oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and can significantly improve tear film quality when applied topically.

Coconut oil is another option that people use as a rewetting agent. A 2015 study published in the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that coconut oil is a safe and effective way to treat DES in rabbits, and suggests the same for humans.

The most important thing to keep in mind when seeking relief from your dry eyes is to always consult with your optometrist before applying anything to your eyes — whether it's a natural oil or over-the-counter eye drops.

For long-lasting relief, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and make your DES a thing of the past. Call Eye Mechanix in Lincoln Park today to book your eye exam!

The information provided here is not medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with your eye doctor. 

At Eye Mechanix, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 773-857-1260 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lincoln Park eye doctors.

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Q&A: 

How do I know which eye drops to choose at the local pharmacy?

Although the drugstore carries a wide range of soothing and lubricating eye drops, the answer to your dry eyes may not be at the drugstore at all. Before you try over-the-counter products, schedule a visit with your dry eye optometrist, who will thoroughly examine your eyes and diagnose the underlying cause of your problem. Once you know what’s causing it, your eye doctor will guide you to the most appropriate treatment.

Does dry eye syndrome need to be treated?

Dry eyes can significantly impact your quality of life, reduce productivity and harm your eye health. Left untreated, severe DES can cause eye inflammation, corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and even vision loss.