Out of all the six senses, we rely on vision the most. Factually, a full 80 percent of the information we gather around us passes through our eyes.
With that kind of activity, our eyes are entitled to get sore and tired from time to time. These days, eye problems seem to be more prevalent than ever. The reason is due to devoting time to what optometrists call ‘near-point’ tasks. Examples include:
Gazing at the computer or TV
Reading books or labels
Scrolling on the cell phone or tablet
The most common eye conditions (eyestrain, bloodshot eyes, irritation) occurs due to the way we use our eyes. These are characteristics of a visual system that isn't functioning as efficiently as it should.
Having regular eye exams early on, will catch any vision changes - in addition to potential serious conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Anne Barber O.D., who is the director of program services for the Optometric Extension Program Foundation in Santa Ana, California, advises that you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years until the age of 55; then every year thereafter.
Proper self-care is usually sufficient for ‘run-of-the-mill’ eye conditions. Eye doctors share natural and a few conventional remedies for keeping our peepers healthy.
1. Bloodshot Eyes
To bring those blood vessels down to size and remove the redness, follow this advice.
Clear your eyes with a cold compress. Wrap ice cubes in a clean washcloth and apply the compress over your eyes for 30 minutes.
Buy tears in a bottle. Artificial tears help to ease the sting of bloodshot eyes and clear up any irritation. If you wear contacts, rewetting drops will also work.
Dispense with the medicated eye drops. Over-the-counter medicated eye drops such as Visine or Refresh can sometimes cause a condition known as 'rebound ocular hyperemia'. This happens when the user becomes solely dependent on the active ingredients in eye drops for preventing the symptoms from returning. So reserve medicated eye drops for occasional use.
2. Crow’s Feet
The first signs usually occur as early as the late twenties. Tiny lines become visible only when we squint. They deepen gradually over the years and become more prominent once we reach our forties.
Fade lines with AHAs. Alpha hydroxy acids are natural acids that are derived from foods (sour milk, sugarcane, fruits) that are known for sloughing off old skin cells and exposing younger ones underneath. It also helps with plumping the skin and restoring its ability to retain moisture. Eye creams that contain 5 percent of AHAs will do the job.
Switching to beta. For sensitive skin, switch to products that contain beta hydroxy acids. They help to reduce wrinkles and fine lines just as well as AHAs, but with less irritation.
Wear sunproof shades. Sunglasses (particularly the wraparound style) may help with crow’s feet by preventing you from squinting.
Constantly rubbing your eyes. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest areas of skin on the human body. Rubbing the eyes repeatedly can cause the skin to eventually stretch and wrinkle.
3. Dark Circles
Contrary to popular belief, heredity typically paints that brownish or bluish black tinge on the skin. While lack of sleep is not the main culprit of dark circles, it definitely can make them more visible. Excessive sun exposure is another factor; as the sun’s rays break down elastin and collagen. Pregnancy, menstruation, health problems, and allergies can also aggravate dark circles. From a medical standpoint, dark circles under the eyes are harmless in and of themselves. However, if you have them, doctors recommend trying out these natural remedies:
Chamomile. Chamomile helps to minimize dark circles by constricting the blood vessels under the eyes. Place a steeped, chilled chamomile tea bag under each closed eye for about 10 to 20 minutes. People that are sensitive to pollen may be allergic to chamomile tea. Discontinue if you experience any negative reaction.
Try witch hazel. Soak cotton balls in witch hazel and lay them on the skin under closed eyes for about 20 minutes.
Keeping them hidden. For covering dark circles, choose a shade of concealer that's no more than two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. This helps to avoid the obvious ‘circle’ around the eye area.
4. Under-Eye Bags
Baggy eyes and puffy eyes have one major difference. Baggy eyes occurs with age. Puffy eyes are temporal. For both, you can use makeup to mask it. But to get rid of the puffiness, try these strategies.
Use a cold spoon. The easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to reduce puffiness is with a glass of ice water and four metal serving spoons. Chill the spoons in ice water, and place one over each eye. When the spoons become warm, switch them with the chilled spoons.
Tea bag compresses. The tannins in tea helps to reduce puffiness and pull the skin taut. Wrap two steeped tea bags in tissue and apply over closed eyes for two to five minutes.
Try dandelion. Dandelion is a natural diuretic which helps the body eliminate excess fluid. Drink one
cup of dandelion leaf tea or take a tincture three times a day. You can find these at health food stores. Women who have gallbladder disease or are taking diuretics for high blood pressure should avoid dandelion tea.
In next week’s article, I will share four more common eye problems followed by doctor recommended natural treatment options for at-home eye care.
Valerie lives in New York. As a health advocate, she shares tips and steps on maximizing nutrition, weight, and fitness goals to help others embrace a healthier lifestyle. She blogs at Halfmile Fitness.