Eye dropper dropping food filled drops into an open eye

Using Diet to Help Control Dry Eye Symptoms

Last updated: May 2023

I much prefer making changes to my diet or my daily habits over taking a prescribed medication, although medication can be a big help for other people struggling with dry eye symptoms. I decided to try out some lifestyle changes for my chronic dry eye, specifically diet changes.

While the below have helped me, it's always best to discuss with your doctor before making any significant changes to your treatment plan. They will be able to counsel you about any potential risks and benefits.

I found I was on my own to see if eating differently could possibly lessen the severity of my chronic dry eye (CDE) symptoms.

Reducing inflammation with dry eye

For my CDE treatment, my doctor prescribed Restasis for my symptoms and to control inflammation. After 3 months on Restasis I had to discontinue it due to side effects. This is how I knew an anti-inflammatory could be beneficial. With the goal of improving my dry eye symptoms, I want to talk about how I try to reduce inflammation through my diet.

Omega-3

My optometrist never talked about diet, but he did recommend I take an omega-3 supplement. This was how I knew omega-3 was important for my dry eye treatment. He recommended 2000 mg daily of a high quality omega-3. I tried taking the supplement, but due to excessive bruising I had to stop. That is when I turned to dietary sources of omega-3.

I eat salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish as often as I can, although purchasing seafood can take a huge chunk out of my grocery allowance. I also like to add flax and chia seeds to my breakfast muffin. Doing so enables me to lessen the amount of oil in the recipe, although I make sure I use oils that are healthy for me. Olive oil is my favorite.

Whole grains

An important part of my anti-inflammatory diet is eating whole grains. We now eat whole grains daily starting with my breakfast muffins.

In the past, I used pasta made from white flour. Before I made the switch to whole grains, I was worried I wouldn’t like the taste or texture. I was surprised to find I prefer the chewier texture of whole grain pasta. We love pasta so I make sure I use only those made from whole grains. Casseroles made with whole grain pasta or brown rice are a great way to stretch meat.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables also play a role in my anti-inflammatory diet. I eat leafy green vegetables most days and several servings of fruit. I love a spinach salad loaded with fruit rather than veggies. It is so good topped with a fruit vinaigrette. In the past I didn’t eat fruit on a daily basis since it takes a big chunk out of my grocery allowance. Now I eat 2-3 servings daily figuring my health is worth the extra cost.

Water

I left water until last but it plays a major role in combating my dry eye symptoms. Drinking water daily is important for everyone's health. I've noticed when I am well hydrated that I reach for my eye drops less often.

Every person is different, and it can depend upon your body weight or level of activity, along with other factors, how much water your body needs. I love water and have no problem reaching my daily goal. This is an easy way for me to manage my dry eye symptoms. In the past I often waited until I felt thirsty to drink water. Now I strive for 8 glasses daily regardless of my thirst level.

Diet and dry eye symptoms

Incorporating the above into my diet taught me that the food I eat can help relieve my dry eye symptoms. I love the challenge of tweaking my recipes to make them eye healthy. I use my air fryer and instant pot to cook most of my food. I seldom eat out since the food choices available are not those foods that help control dry eye symptoms.

Again, making major changes to your treatment or diet is a conversation to be had with your doctor. These diet changes have helped me, but we all are different. Since making these changes to my diet, I notice I don’t need extra eye drops throughout my day other than the 4 times daily recommended by my doctor. I no longer think of my dietary changes as a diet. Instead it is a permanent change in my diet.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ChronicDryEye.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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