Whether we’re gazing at a computer screen, scanning products at a checkout or searching for our exit on a freeway, most of us rely on our eyes to do our jobs. Unfortunately, we all experience eye symptoms at some point. You know the feeling: itching, burning—that sensation that something’s in your eye that you can’t get out.
Thankfully, many natural interventions can help soothe minor eye complaints and support ongoing eye health.
Tired, red eyes
Asthenopia: it sounds like an exotic land far, far away. But asthenopia is actually a common collection of symptoms due to eye strain. Symptoms usually occur after reading, working on a computer or similar eye-straining activity and can include dryness, irritation, pain, temporary double vision and headaches.
The most important treatment for this condition is to just give your eyes a break now and then. Continually staring at a screen or papers is not eye friendly, and taking a break for a few minutes each hour can make a big difference. Researchers have shown that taking 50 minutes worth of short computer breaks a day can reduce asthenopia symptoms without affecting work productivity.
Special film overlays that reduce computer screen glare also help to reduce asthenopia symptoms.
Supplements that can be helpful for eye strain-related symptoms include DHA, bilberry and lutein. A small study using a combination of these nutrients showed a reduction in asthenopia in only four weeks.
Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a relatively common problem, and though dry eyes may sound like no big deal, people with DES can suffer from very uncomfortable symptoms. DES can include symptoms of intense eye irritation, including the feeling that there is something in the eye.
Lubricating eye drops can be very helpful in providing some temporary relief. But for a deeper-acting treatment, increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help. In a 90-day study comparing omega-3 supplementation to placebo, 70 percent of the omega-3 group experienced symptom relief compared to only 37 percent of the placebo group.
A stye is a small, painful swelling on the edge of the eyelid. It is caused by a bacterial infection in one of the oil-producing glands of the lid. If you have had one, you know how amazingly uncomfortable they can be, as well as unsightly.
A standard treatment for styes is a warm compress: simply a warm towel that is placed over the eye for 15 to 20 minutes, two to four times a day. This is done until the stye drains, relieving the pressure and discomfort. Never squeeze or poke a stye, as this can cause more irritation, swelling and misery.
While you have a stye, avoid wearing eye makeup so you don’t contaminate your makeup applicator with bacteria from the affected eye. For similar reasons, avoid sharing cosmetics with other people.
In addition to these natural approaches, remember to schedule regular appointments with your optometrist in order to ensure the best eye health possible.