Dry eyes or dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs due to reduced tear production, production of low quality tears or excessive tear evaporation.
Dry eyes can be due to lifestyle habits like long hours of screen time, commuting by bike, usage of contact lenses, and exposure to smoke or dry air. Even medications can cause dry eyes as a side effect. And don’t forget allergies and ageing.
Dry eyes are usually very uncomfortable due to itchiness, blurry vision, burning sensation in the eyes, and redness of the eyes.
Thus, normal tear production is important for proper lubrication and moisturisation of the eyes.
Causes of dry eyes
Many things could make you have dry eyes, a few are discussed here:
Staring at screens for a long time
Post-covid, a lot of people find it difficult to stay away from screens- Students now take courses and attend classes online, organisations and businesses have resorted to working online, and hold online meetings and conferences, which has increased an individuals’ time of exposure to screens of mobile phones and computers.
You tend to blink less often while staring at a computer screen, this can reduce production of tears and cause dry eyes. To solve this, you can try blinking more often, taking breaks at regular intervals to look away from the computer screen.
Some drugs such antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants can cause a reduction in tears production. If your drugs make you experience dry eyes, you can discuss with your doctor for alternative drugs. You can also use artificial tears to relieve dryness
As one ages, the body declines in its ability to perform some physiologic functions efficiently. One such function is tear production. When you are over the age of 50, you tend to experience eye dryness, which is usually unpreventable and unavoidable. You can use artificial tears to moisturise the eyes so as to find some relief.
Vitamin A deficiency
Deficiency in vitamin A – a must for healthy eyes – can cause eye dryness, and in extreme situations night blindness. Here’s what you can do. Ensure adequate intake of Vitamin A containing foods such as broccoli, liver, fish, eggs, oranges, carrots, and peppers.
Low water and fluid intake can cause dry eyes. Increase your fluid intake to check eye dryness.
Exposure to lots of wind from a fan or while taking a bike trip can cause quick evaporation of tears from the eyes. Wear glasses when taking bike trips and avoid sitting directly facing a fan.
Coconut Oil for Dry Eyes
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid. These are the reasons behind it’s antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
Coconut oil can be used as a natural remedy for lubrication of dry eyes.
According to a study carried out using albino rabbits (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352907/), it was discovered that virgin coconut oil (VCO) is not merely a composition of fatty acids but also acts as a protective layer over tear film layers from evaporation, it could also be useful for those with dry eyes problem.
It was concluded that VCO kept the Rabbit’s eyes safe from dryness.
Virgin coconut oil’s beneficial effect can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties, which is similar to those of natural tears.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Dry Eyes
When choosing coconut oil for dry eyes, it’s best to opt for virgin coconut oil because it is unrefined, less processed and contains no chemical additives which may affect the eyes adversely.
To apply virgin coconut oil to your eyes, use a dropper to drop two to three drops of oil into the affected eyes, close your eyes, roll it for some seconds and then open. This allows the oil to be distributed to every part of the eyes.
Alternatively, you can soak a cotton ball in VCO, then place the cotton on your closed eyelids for about 10-15 minutes.’
Other Effective ways to relieve dry eyes
- Use of artificial tears: Over-the-counter artificial tears can be used to moisten the eyes.
- Increasing water intake: Drinking water at intervals all through the day can help in hydrating the whole body and can be very effective in preventing dry eyes.
- Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake: Caffeine and alcohol have a dehydrating effect on the body, and lead to underproduction of tears. Substances such as coffee, energy drinks which are high in caffeine should be consumed minimally, and alcohol intake should also be reduced.
- Use of glasses: On occasions of high winds or when at high altitudes, the eyes should be protected from the wind by using wraparound sunglasses.
- Blink eyes often: Intentionally blink your eyes frequently at intervals when working with a computer, also try to focus on another thing in the environment for some seconds to help tear production and overall eye health.
Other Benefits of Coconut Oil
Apart from the use of coconut oil as a lubricant for dry eyes, it has also been proven beneficial in the following ways:
Boosts skin health
Application of coconut oil to the skin helps moisturise the skin. It improves skin barrier function, prevents excessive water loss from the skin, and also protects against infectious agents and chemicals.
- Improves Scalp and hair health – Coconut oil penetrates deeper into the scalp than other oils. It protects against hair breakage and damage, increases hair flexibility, and makes hair shine.
- Is an Antioxidant source – Coconut oil’s vitamin E is a biological antioxidant which destroys reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals. This antioxidant helps prevent damage of body cell membranes and also protects the brain.
- Is a Source of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) – According to a research carried out on volunteers between ages 18 and 25 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745680/), medium chain triglycerides, a component of coconut oil proved to help boost the levels of good cholesterol-high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL helps to reduce levels of bad cholesterol-low density lipoprotein, hence boosting cardiovascular health.
Here comes a caution!
Despite the many benefits of coconut oil consumption, it is advised that coconut oil be treated as any other saturated fat, and should be consumed in moderation.
Coconut oil (VCO) is your best bet as a natural remedy to dry eyes. We also advise you to leverage the use of coconut in its various aspects of beneficial use, and don’t forget to be cautious in consuming it as food.
Almost everyone is suffering from dry eyes these days due to our changed lifestyle.
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