If You Have Dry Eyes, Heat May Be Able To Revive Them

Typically, our eyes are naturally lubricated through tears. However, certain conditions or environmental changes can cause our eyes to lose that moisture, causing dry eyes. There are products such as eye drops that promise to fix dryness in the eyes, but if you're in a pinch and can't get to the store, it can be frustrating to deal with. 

First off, what causes eye dryness to begin with? According to Healthline, dry eyes come from a lot of different issues including allergies or a change in humidity. You can also get drier eyes with certain medical conditions and as you age. Whatever causes it for you, specifically, dry eyes occur when your eyes aren't producing their natural lubrication (aka tears) as well as they should be. Dry eye syndrome has more symptoms than just dry and itchy eyes. You can also experience redness, excess eye mucus, feeling like something is stuck in your eyes, and blurry vision among a few other things.

If you want an at-home or more "natural" remedy for dry eyes instead of going out and buying a product, using heat might work for you. Even though it might not be your first thought, heat via a warm compress can help treat dry eyes and create a soothing effect while you're at it.

How does heat help with dry eyes?

Using a warm compress on your eyes is a "natural way to treat dry eyes and relieve uncomfortable symptoms," according to Dr. Russel Lazarus, an optometrist consultant for the Optometrists Network. As Dr. Lazarus explains, the moisture from the warm compress soothes your dry eyes, and the heat "helps to open the meibomian glands to improve oil gland function, increase oil flow into the eyes, stabilize the tear film, and slow down tear evaporation." Basically, heat will help your eyes with their lubrication production by soothing the glands they come from. Warmth and moisture can unclog any oils keeping your eyes' glands from working properly, per WebMD. The warmth also relieves any pain and discomfort you're feeling due to the dryness. 

There are ready-made warm compresses you can purchase that can help with your dry eyes. However, WebMD recommends not using a store-bought warm compress or bag because they could contain irritants that might find their way into your eye if they leak. Plus, if you don't want to go to the store, a warm compress is something that is easily achieved with household materials as well.

How do you use a warm compress on your eyes?

To create a warm compress at home you'll need a clean washcloth either dipped in warm water or wetted and microwaved. For both methods, make sure to squeeze the cloth so it's damp, not dripping. If microwaving, leave the washcloth a bit wetter, but still wring it out before using. Then you just apply the cloth to your eyes. Depending on how badly they're irritated or dry, you can keep the warm compress on for five to 10 minutes. You can use this method alongside eye drops or other remedies. But always contact your doctor for more help.

Some tips WebMD has to keep warm compresses "eye-friendly" is to make sure they're as clean and ingredient-free as possible. Using just water is your best bet because anything involving tea bags, Epsom salts, or other ingredients can further irritate your eyes. You also don't want to use scalding hot water, which might damage your eyes or the sensitive skin around them. If you think your eye is dry or irritated due to an infection, never use the same washcloth on both eyes — this might spread the infection from one eye to the other.