Top Natural Remedies for Dry Eyes - Internal and External Applications

| Modified on Mar 29, 2024
Dry Eyes Natural Remedies

Dry eyes can be caused by trauma, aging, menopause, medication side effects, nutritional deficiencies and some autoimmune diseases. Natural remedies can often bring relief to dry eyes. In some cases, a complete resolution of dry eyes can be expected, depending upon the initial cause. Simple home treatments for dry eyes include castor oil, borage oil, baking soda and dietary changes.

Some natural remedies are used topically; others are used internally.

Topical Treatments for Dry Eyes

1. Aloe

Aloe gel or juice is simply wiped onto each closed eyelid, twice daily or as needed. You do not need to put the aloe into the eye.

2. Castor Oil

Castor oil is another natural remedy that is applied directly to the eyelids, and not the eye. Apply castor oil once or twice a day; whichever is needed for your eyes to feel comfortable.

Some eye drops contain castor oil. If you wish to use castor oil in your eyes, use a hexane free and cold pressed castor oil.

3. Baking Soda

When dry eyes are caused by an overly acidic system, baking soda works well to heal dry eyes.

Watch Earth Clinic's video on using baking soda topically and internally to alleviate dry and burning eyes.

Dissolve ¼ teaspoon baking soda in 1/4 - 1/3 cup of water. Use your clean finger to apply some of this water to the eyelid of your eye. Then drink the rest of your baking soda water. This will reduce acidity at the site of the problem, and begin to resolve the acid issue from the inside out. You may only need this remedy in the morning, but you can repeat it before bed if needed.

Internal Treatments for Dry Eyes

Supplements for dry eyes can reverse nutritional deficiencies that cause dry eyes.

1. Maqui Berry Extract

Maqui berry, or Aristotelia chilensis, is a fruit from South America. It looks like blueberries, but the color is actually dark purple. The Mapuche Indians of Chile have used the berries, leaves, and stems for inflammation, eye health, blood sugar, and heart conditions.

An Earth Clinic reader reports that one internal dose of the maqui berry extract alleviated her dry eye condition for Lasik surgery immediately!

2. Borage Oil

Borage oil is often taken in a supplement because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have also confirmed the usefulness of oils with GLA (an Omega 6 fatty acid) for dry eyes.1

Other oils that may be of use due to a high GLA content include evening primrose oil and black currant seed oil.

Fish oil and flax seed oil are two more oils that bring relief to dry eyes for some.

3. Dietary Changes

Because dry eyes can be associated with an overly acidic system, some dietary changes may be helpful. Coffee, tomatoes, processed foods and sugary foods can increase acidity in the system. Cutting back or eliminating these foods may solve your dry eye problem. (It may solve other health issues, too!)

Carrots and berries, on the other hand, may be especially helpful for dry eyes and good eye health in general.

Continue reading to see what our readers have learned about using natural remedies for dry eyes. Do you have a natural remedy for dry eyes? Please send us some feedback!

Acacia Honey

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Someone (Romania) on 11/09/2017

For eye dryness use Acacia honey


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Almost Cured (Washington, Dc, Usa) on 12/31/2010

Hi - I had gradually worsening dry eyes due to lots of computer time and, I realize, worsening circulation despite exercising vigorously on a daily basis. I did oil pulling in the summer and it helped some, but then tried acupunture this fall for general wellness (after a marathon) and alas! Dry eyes became significantly better, along with circulation in extremities. I cannot speak more highly to the benefits of acupunture. Do yourself a favor and try it out in 2011!

Replied by Peterpan
(Peabody, Ma/usa)

How often do you have to go? Every week? Os was it a cure?

Alkaline Water Eye Drops

1 User Review
4 star (1) 

Posted by Rhonda (Lakewoood) on 09/01/2015

Tried all other remedies listed and they worked better than prescription eye drops but chiro suggested eye drops made from alkaline water and they seem to work best. Every day eyes are getting better.

Replied by Rsw

Hi Rhonda,

Do you make your own alkaline water or is it something you buy? I have tried Dave's baking soda and water on the eyelids, which is helpful, but are you saying you put it into your eyes? Thank you for recipe or brand name. I have Sjogren's and would appreciate some relief.

Replied by Debbie
(Phoenix, Arizona)

What are alkaline water eyedrops and how did you get them or make them?

Replied by Jose
(Walnut, California, Usa)

I would also like to know about alkaline drops for eyes, I have dried eyes but prescription eye drops don't do much for me. Thank you

Replied by Juliana
(Ufa, Russia)

When I visited ND for dry symptoms, he looked my eyes through light and said my eyes are acidic.On my own, I used very weak solution of baking soda and water. It helped me for while, but later my eye sight started to be affected negatively by it. I went to Russia and saw Russian eye professor and she checked my eyes through eye machines and said that my eyes are dry because the lids of my eyes are inflamed, and I started to loose some of my eye lashes and that was enough to stop the tear and natural eye lubricant flow from my eye lids to my eyes.She used some simple tool almost as tweezer and under eye machine for 10 days in a row, squeezed some stagnated and stocked oil lubricants that plugged my eye lids.

These 10 treatments which was very cheap to treat, the dry eye symptoms.From time to time, I do have dry eyes only if eat and drink milk product.which indicates that candida is in my body. I hope this will help someone. Thank you


2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Maureen (Illinois) on 06/16/2018 1 posts

Thank you so much, Dave, for posting this remedy, which a friend of mine found here and told me about. I take thyroid medication which makes aging dry eyes even drier. I was ready to give up wearing contact lenses and switch to glasses because after being awake for a few hours, my eyes burned badly and drops weren't helping. The first time I tried it, I thought my eyes were less dry but I wasn't sure. I applied it to my lids again after removing my contact lenses before bed. Day 2, it wasn't until I was going through my nightly ritual of removing my contact lenses that I realized I'd gone the whole day without any problems. They didn't burn and weren't uncomfortable at all.

I don't know how or why this works, but it does. If people have tried it and it's not working, wait a few days, or try applying it to your lids, two or three times during the day. It may be different for different people and aloe vera gel doesn't hurt anything.

I put a small drop (smaller than a pea) on my little finger and dab the other little finger into it to apply to both eyelids. I just keep rubbing it in until it feels like it's been absorbed. It will remain tacky initially, but will eventually dry.

For those asking about brands, I've used both drugstore generic brand and Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel that I picked up from Walmart. Both work the same.

Posted by Earthy (Buchanan, Tn. ) on 10/19/2017 7 posts

Since my eyes were staying so red and veiny I decided to check out the info here on Earth Clinic for dry eyes. Wow a lot of people have this problem. The one thing I did was use aloe juice on my eye lids. I am very surprised and appreciative that my eyes are much better. I was dropping it in my eyes but it was very painful so I stopped. It was hard to believe applying it to my eye lids would work but it is great. My eyes are so much more comfortable. I tend to think more is better so the first day I did it about 8X. putting a small amount in the bottom of a glass and using my finger to dip in and apply to my eye lid until it was dripping down my face. I noticed more comfort and less red immediately. I would still suggest to check dry eye page on here. Hope this helps someone.

Aloe Vera, Avoid Coffee

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Dave (Fountain Inn, Sc) on 09/24/2011


Two recommendations:

I have suffered from dry eye for over twenty years and have tried dozens of various otc drops. The very best solution to the problem I have found is very inexpensive: aloe vera (I use a high quality one) annointed on the lids of the eyes. Not dropped into the eye but on the lids. Aloe is, of course, alkaline and I believe what is happening is that the aloe is netralizing an acidic condition. I was put onto the idea of putting the drops of aloe onto the eye lid by my opthomologist who had given me a prescription for eye lid drops to deal with dry eye. But I found the aloe vera worked better and at little expense. I usually apply three or four times daily or as needed.

My second recommendation is to be careful for coffee consumption, both in regular and de-caf form... The acid in the coffee is murder on sensitive eyes. I have found a direct correlation between "burning eyes" during the day and whether I've had coffee that morning. Teas don't seem to be so bad.

Replied by Eileen
(Summerville, Sc)

I'm sorry to sound dense, but do I apply it to the inside of my eyelid or on the outside of my eyelid? I have two aloe plants and can use fresh, pure aloe. I'm hoping this will work for me. I had lasik surgery, and now my eyes are so dry and the lasik is not working. It's been 6 months since the surgery.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)


So sorry to have missed your anoint the outside of eyelid with the aloe vera. Also you can use a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in quarter glass of water...the alkaline of either will neutralize the acidic eye.

Again, apply on outside of eyelid.

I usually apply and wipe off and then reapply. If you think your fingers might be even slightly oily use a paper towel to perform application.

And remember, the acidic foods are what is at work in causing the dry my experience 90 percent of all my burning eye/dry eye condition is related to coffee and eating spicy products.

Replied by Schwabbie
(Fontana, Ca)

I also notice that I can count on a dry eye episode if I drink coffee, caffeinated or not.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)

To Schwabbie;

And not only coffee but acidic foods of any kind. I've noticed that if I eat the fruit papaya that the burning/dry eye is not so severe.

Papaya is just miracle stuff.

Replied by Terry

I had such horrible dry eyes. My vision was so blurred and I was getting no help from drops or ointments. When I went for an eye exam they had to reapply the drops a few times because they were so dry and itchy. I read your suggestion to use aloe Vera gel on the lids......I cannot believe how wonderful my eyes feel. Thank you.

Replied by Diana
(Dresden, Germany)

Hello, I suffer from severe Dry Eye Syndrome since one year. And by the time I started to feel the discomfort and annoy at my eyes I was on a strict (but very varied and healthy) diet due to GERD. Thus I was not allowed to eat any fruits or vegetables, not to mention coffee or spicy food. And I still started to feel the effects of Dry Eye Syndrome. What I want to point out is the fact, that the dry eye has nothing to do with the fact, that you eat some fruits or drink coffee once in a while. And one more thing: Omega3 pills have just Placebo effects. Try not to take them a whole month, and you?ll see that nothing has changed. You feel the same with or without them. Sad, but true. Keep trying other remedies, although I'm about to give it up.

Replied by Diana

Hello, I suffer from severe Dry Eye Syndrome since one year. And by the time I started to feel the discomfort and annoy at my eyes I was on a strict (but very varied and healthy) diet due to GERD. Thus I was not allowed to eat any fruits or vegetables, not to mention coffee or spicy food. And I still started to feel the effects of Dry Eye Syndrome. What I want to point out is the fact, that the dry eye has nothing to do with the fact, that you eat some fruits or drink coffee once in a while. And one more thing: Omega3 pills have just Placebo effects. Try not to take them a whole month, and you'll see that nothing has changed. You feel the same with or without them. Sad, but true. Keep trying other remedies, although I'm about to give it up.

Replied by Om
(Hope, Bc Canada)

Please read up on cold pressed castor oil. Namaste, Om

Replied by Frances
(Cabarlah, AU)

Dry eyes and post-Lasix surgery, both my sister and step daughter were advised to use capsules of hyaluronic acid for approx. 6 mo. to alleviate the dryness.

Replied by Ann
(Sussex, Uk)

Reading these comments has helped me tremendously on my search for health for my watery eyes and stinging lids. Castor Oil worked wonders and did reduce bags! Acupuncture was helping a lot, but I was curious my acupuncturist was treating skin and lungs. Finally went to eye clinic in hospital to see if tear ducts were draining properly. Verdict - wasn't dry eye at all, but dermatitis! very relieved and amazed that all but my acupuncturist were missing the point. I thought the red skin was from very abundant tearing of eyes. So before surgery or anything drastic, look at the pages of this website to see if contact dermatitis explains your symptoms better - I know, sounds counterintuitive, but applying 50/50 cider vinegar (with mere) and water has reduced the redness and tearing has all but stopped. I agree about coffee - try to avoid it, same with sulphates (in wine). good luck.

Replied by C


I was wondering if you use Aloe Vera cream, drops or gel? Could you link the brand you use perhaps? Thank you...

Replied by Nisa

Had lasik done in july 2016. Horrible dry eyes right now. None of the drops work so I had plugs put in. I'm not getting much relief from that either. Any advice on post lasik dry eyes will be greatly appreciated.

(Miami Beach)
5 posts

I had Lasik and I ended up with dry eyes that made my vision blurry. I kept telling Lasik this and for 3 years they kept brushing it under the carpet and not listening to me. In the end I reported them to Better Business Bureau and they got me a refund on the Lasik procedure. I started a prescription eye drop called MAXITROL which seems to be slowly working but you can only use it for 7 days. I will however start using organic cold pressed castor oil eye drops as I've read so many testimonials at how amazing it is for chronic dry eyes. For those of you who have had Lasik and have been left with chronic dry eyes, report them to Better Business Bureau and request a refund. They will get it for you.

(Miami Beach)
5 posts

I had Lasik and I ended up with dry eyes that made my vision blurry. I kept telling Lasik this and for 3 years they kept brushing it under the carpet and not listening to me. In the end I reported them to Better Business Bureau and they got me a refund on the Lasik procedure. I started a prescription eye drop called MAXITROL which seems to be slowly working but you can only use it for 7 days. I will however start using organic cold pressed castor oil eye drops as I've read so many testimonials at how amazing it is for chronic dry eyes. For those of you who have had Lasik and have been left with chronic dry eyes, report them to Better Business Bureau and request a refund. They will get it for you.

Replied by Taylor Young
(Tempe, Az)

For people having trouble with coffee and it's acidity causing more problems with dry eyes, you should try adding baking soda to the coffee. I add 1/8th teaspoon to a big cup. I have checked it with ph testing paper as well as I have a ph testing meter.

Apple Cider Vinegar

3 User Reviews
5 star (2) 
4 star (1) 

Posted by Hien (Houston, Tx) on 07/18/2009

5 parts of water 2 parts of honey and 1 part of apple cider vinegar. I had sandy, red eyes i went to see three eyes doctor, after 4 times seeing them they all gave me antibiotic and said i have eyes infection and dry. I keep using the antibiotic but i can tell not getting better, last night look online and found this lady has the same problem like mine, she gave out this home remedy, i use it since last night and this morning i feel much better, i went back to the site trying to say thank you, but i could not find it ,well thank you if you happen to get on this site. Hien Hoang

Replied by Sylvia
(Sydney, Australia)

Hien from Houston writes: 5 parts of water, 2 parts of honey and 1 part of apple cider vinegar. Do you put this in your eye or swallow it?

Replied by Jag

Hien from Houston posted the remedy: "5 parts of water, 2 parts of honey and 1 part of apple cider vinegar." I also want to know, do you put this in your eye or swallow it? Please advise as my 7 yr old is suffering from dry red eyes. It wouldn't hurt to take both orally & eye wash but just wondering.


That is an eye drop recipe from the book "The Master Cleanser" I use these drops always with great relief. It does sting so you may want to dilute with the distilled water more than the recipe calls for until you get used to it. My dry eye is seasonal so I use it when I need to and several times a day if need be. Best for you. Jami

Replied by Lori
(Portland, Or)

Re: eye drops made of distilled water, honey, and Apple cider vinegar. How long will this solution keep? How often (what intervals) is it safe to use, and over what duration of time.

Replied by Mousy
(Portland, Or)

Re: eye drops made of distilled water, honey, and Apple cider vinegar. How long will this solution keep? How often (what intervals) is it safe to use, and over what duration of time.

Replied by Glynis
(Springfield, Mo)

Thank you, thank you, thank you. My eyes hurt so bad I could barely read the instructions. Could not figure out if I was supposed to use recipe as an eye wash or wipe my eyelids with it. Tried as a wash (burned) added two more parts of water (still burned) then wiped on eyelid (did not burn). I continued wiping my eyelids with the solution and received soothing. Eye are still somewhat sore but will continue to use. Thank you to Earthclinic and all who reply and read. Thank you.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by E'Leighne (Compton, California) on 03/04/2008

... I just started taking 1T cider vinegar every day in my water for about 2 weeks. I noticed my eyes are not as dry in the mornings as they usually are.

Replied by Cat
(Lax, Ca)

This is just a word of caution I would like to add here just in case you encounter this problem I went to my ophthalmologist. I had an on-going dry eye problem last week and I went to the doctor and they wanted to plug the other two tear ducts plus another round of medication. I declined. Anyhow I told the doctor that I was putting sterilized distilled water in my eyes at night since I'm allergic to practically every eye drop. Anyhow, she warned me to STOP IT right away even though the water is sterilized she said the water could be carrying Acanthoamoeba and she checked my eyes to see I had it and I did not! Apparently "there is a water and soil-born parasite Acanthamoeba is more prevalent than most ophthalmologists think. "Amoeba are very common organisms, they are all over the globe, in fact they're one of the original life forms" drug don't work against the parasite so the problem persists and if it goes untreated, patients can lose their eyesight. "This is a kind of amoeba that has the characteristic of forming a cyst or shell around it so it can hide from predators or destruction, and can be very difficult to kill. "

The amoeba is extremely difficult to identify, but according to researchers doctors have the best chance at diagnosing the amoeba as the source of an eye infection " Anyhow I wanted to post this just in case.

Replied by Paola

To reply for the parasite in distilled water, you can safely replace the distilled water to a contact lens solution that has no chemical in it its the saline solution of baush& lomb for sensitive eyes. Found in different pharmacies .

Avoid Fan Use

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Danamarie (California) on 02/24/2016

I was starting to get dry, red, irriated eyes and the eye doctor told me to stop using a fan. it worked.

Avoid Himalayan Salt

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by RB (Somewhere in Europe) on 03/29/2024 84 posts

In my experience, Himalayan salt is more harm than good. A) Whenever I use Himalayan salt, I get a dry eye. B) Also in my experience, there is no dry eye, whenever I avoid the intake of Himalayan salt. C) Also in my experience, I have no dry eye ever since I have switched from Himalayan salt to refined sea salt from Italy.

I hope this will help somebody!

Baking Soda

5 User Reviews
5 star (5) 

Posted by Rob (Cape Hatteraas, NC) on 03/20/2022

I have redness in the corner of my left eye. I have had it over a year. My eye also produces and lot of sand and grit. My left eye always feels tired even after just waking up I read about adding 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to an 4 ounce glass of water and splashing it in my eye and drinking it. After doing this, almost immediately, my eye felt better! Can't recommend it enough:)

Replied by mmsg
(somewhere, europe)

Yes, Rob, I can attest to the efficacy of the baking-soda-in-water eye wash. It helps for itchy eyes, red eyes and probably for some other eye woes.

Baking Soda
Posted by Dave (Fountain Inn, Sc) on 01/10/2017

I've found that my burning eyes could be helped by applying a solution of Baking Soda in water to eyelids and get instant relief. And a while back my sister reminded me that my grandmother (who lived to 103) would start her day off with Baking soda in water and wash her eyes out with the solution...not just applying to eyelids. I've been doing that for a few weeks now and find my eyes don't burn nearly as much, even when I've had too much acid foods during the day (coffee, Tex-mex).

Baking Soda
Posted by Dave (Fountain Inn, Sc) on 06/18/2013

Had dry eyes for years and in my case found it was acid related. Tried lots of remedies but the best is to dissolve a third teaspoon baking soda into a half cup of purified water. For safety sake, boil the water and let cool. Dab with clean cloth onto eyelids; repeat a minute later. I repeat: Apply to eye LIDS. Keep eyes closed until dry. The alkaline water will counter the acidic condition on eye surface.

I drink then the remainder of the baking soda water to offset my acidic system.

If I drink coffee, the dry eye problem is worse. Eating acidic foods also worsens the dry eye.

The point is: my dry eye condition was being caused by an acidic system. I had been diagnosed by an opthomologist with "dry eye" and the solution was to counter the acid in the body which I suppose had caused the dryness.

Replied by Heather

I was so psyched to see that you drank the remainder of the water!!! Not only will it help but your body in alkaline dominance, but baking soda is one the ealiest known forms of chemotherap. Simple baking soda has the power to wipe out most forms of cancer. The government was so intent on keeping this information away from us that in 1913 the Rockefellers (same ones that own the national reserve and basically america) started and funded the American Cancer Assoc. to control all information we woukd receive. How sickening. I just made my brother start baking soda for cancer he was told waa aggresive, growing, he must start chemo n radiation immediatly etc etc...his last appointment they couldn't visibly see the cancer anymore...imagine that. Thanks for the info on eyes! Trying it right now. I use it for hair, exfoliating.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)

Hello Heather,

Thank you for commenting on the Dry Eye method.

Pretty simple. I used to spend a lot of money on eye drops. It's now been four or five years since I've had to buy drops. I just use the Baking Soda on closed eyelids...dry off with a tissue and re apply. In my case I have diagnosed dry eye by an ophthalmologist. But the real agitator is the acidic condition of the body. Anytime I get too much acid producing foods, there comes the agitation. The acid on dry eye...ouch. So the Soda neutralizes the acid in the eye and I drink the rest to help alkalize in the body.

Please let us know how it works for you.

Replied by Rhonda
(Lakewood, Ca)

Baking soda works much better than prescription eye drops for me. It lasts longer so you don't have to apply as frequently as drops and it is more effective as well. Stops tearing and more soothing. One eye seems to be cured while the other still gets watery. When that happens, I apply remedy to lid as someone on EC recommended. Then when it returns, I do it again. Much happier that I found this remedy.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)

Hello Rhonda,

Baking Soda for Eye Lids replaced need for eye drops...

That was my suggestion and really one of the best remedies I've come across; eye burning or eye irritation can cause havoc. Glad you found it effective.

As a reminder to folks...use a quarter teaspoon in a cup of water. Dissolve...then dab on eye lids....close eyes to do this. Then take a paper towel and wipe off, and reapply keeping eyes closed for a few seconds. The alkaline neutralizes the acid in eyes and that is very effective in lots of eye irritation cases.

Replied by Karen
(Smithville, Tx)

I see two different amounts of water and baking soda:

1/3 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of water in your first post, then

1/4 teaspoon in 1 cup of water in a follow-up post.

Am curious which one is preferable. Thanks.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, S.c.)


  • This might be me you were writing to. I have been using baking soda mixed in water and gently applying to closed eyes ...eyelids... for a number of years now. Dry eye situation is much improved. Whenever I have too much coffee or too many acidic products if I use the baking soda and water this always helps immensely and usually completely relieves me of the difficulty. You asked which quantity is correct. There is no certain amount but I typically use about a third of a teaspoon baking soda and a half glass of water. It can be less it can be more. Whatever suits you.

Replied by Nancy Bennett

How often should this be done? once, twice a day?

Black Cohosh

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Diamond (Salisbury, Ma.usa) on 03/25/2011

I think the castor oil people are trying for dry eyes is just great. I searched everywhere for years, I too tried many different items and they only worked temp. Then some one told me to try black cohosh sold in all herbal stores, it's sold as a capsule, I take one every morning, and it's great for every day. I also found that my dry eyes are caused from a virus. So I am working on the whole body one day at a time, one body part at a time. But good luck & I just thought I would share some extra back up info.

Black Currant Seed Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Art (California ) on 03/19/2017 2139 posts

I've had dry eyes for quite a few years and it has varied in intensity but the overall trend has remained to dryer over time. I mainly have the problem at night and when I wake in the morning it can be quite difficult to open my eyes as they are so dry. Applying eye drops helps, but they are more of a band aid that needs to be replaced regularly and don't seem to do anything to stop or reduce the problem.

I had read that fish oil can be helpful for dry eyes, but I have taken fish oils at up to 6 grams per day and didn't notice any improvement. I also tried using a higher quality castor oil around my eyes but not directly in them and that helped, but castor oil can be messy and it will rub off on your pillow, so not very convenient.

More recently I was experimenting with black currant seed oil capsules for another reason. I started noticing that my morning eye dryness seemed to be diminishing and somedays was not a problem at all. I discontinued the black currant seed oil and my eye dryness seemed to return so I started taking it again and the dryness seems to be diminishing again.

Based on this experience I decided to read about black currant seed oil and see if there were any reports suggesting it could help dry eyes.
I did not find any studies directly linking black currant seed oil and dry eye reduction or elimination. In looking at the label on my bottle of BCSO, I noticed that it has a fairly high gamma linolenic acid (GLA) content in the 14 to 17% area, so I decided to see if GLA has shown benefit for dry eyes and I found this on PubMed:

Cornea. 2003 Mar;22(2):97-101.
Systemic linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid therapy in dry eye syndrome with an inflammatory component.

Barabino S1, Rolando M, Camicione P, Ravera G, Zanardi S, Giuffrida S, Calabria G.
Author information
To evaluate the efficacy and anti-inflammatory activity of systemic linoleic (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which decrease chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, on the ocular surface of patients with keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
In a randomized clinical trial, 26 patients with aqueous-deficient keratoconjunctivitis sicca were consecutively selected from patients presenting to Department of Neurosciences, Ophthalmology and Genetics, University of Genoa. The diagnosis was based on dry eye symptom survey score, Schirmer-1 test values, positive vital staining with lissamine green, and fluorescein break-up time (FBUT). All patients had ocular surface inflammation based on HLA-DR expression, a major histocompatibility class II antigen, on epithelial bulbar conjunctiva samples. The subjects were randomly divided into two groups of 13 patients each. The study group received tablets containing LA (28.5 mg) and GLA (15 mg) twice daily for 45 days and used tears; the control group received a tear substitute and a placebo tablet for 45 days.
Statistically significant changes in symptoms (p < 0.005), lissamine green staining (p < 0.005), and ocular surface inflammation (p < 0.05) occurred in the study group compared with controls. HLA-DR expression varied from 58.5 +/- 14.1% positive conjunctival cells to 41.3 +/- 18.9% in the treated group and from 61.4 +/- 21.9% to 58.0 +/- 13.3% in the controls. No statistically significant difference between groups was found for FBUT and the Schirmer-1 test.
Therapy with LA and GLA and tear substitutes reduces ocular surface inflammation and improves dry eye symptoms. Long-term studies are needed to confirm the role of this new therapy for keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
PMID: 12605039


Cornea. 2013 Oct;32(10):1297-304. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318299549c.
Long-term Supplementation With n-6 and n-3 PUFAs Improves Moderate-to-Severe Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial.

Sheppard JD Jr1, Singh R, McClellan AJ, Weikert MP, Scoper SV, Joly TJ, Whitley WO, Kakkar E, Pflugfelder SC.
Author information
Supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has been found to decrease the production of disease-relevant inflammatory mediators that are implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic dry eye. This study evaluated the effect of a supplement containing both GLA and n-3 PUFAs on signs and symptoms of moderate-to-severe keratoconjunctivitis sicca in postmenopausal patients.
This multicenter, double-masked placebo-controlled clinical trial enrolled 38 patients (both eyes) with tear dysfunction who were randomized to supplemental GLA + n-3 PUFAs or placebo for 6 months. Disease parameters, including Ocular Surface Disease Index, Schirmer test, tear breakup time, conjunctival fluorescein and lissamine green staining, and topographic corneal smoothness indexes (surface asymmetry index and surface regularity index), were assessed at baseline and at 4,12, and 24 weeks. The intensity of dendritic cell CD11c integrin and HLA-DR expression was measured in conjunctival impression cytologies.
The Ocular Surface Disease Index score improved with supplementation and was significantly lower than placebo (21 ± 4 vs. 34 ± 5) after 24 weeks (P = 0.05, n = 19 per group). The surface asymmetry index was significantly lower in supplement-treated subjects (0.37 ± 0.03, n = 15) than placebo (0.51 ± 0.03, n = 16) at 24 weeks (P = 0.005). Placebo treatment also significantly increased HLA-DR intensity by 36% ± 9% and CD11c by 34% ± 7% when compared with supplement treatment (n = 19 per group, P = 0.001,24 weeks). Neither treatment had any effect on tear production, tear breakup time, or corneal or conjunctival staining.
Supplemental GLA and n-3 PUFAs for 6 months improved ocular irritation symptoms, maintained corneal surface smoothness, and inhibited conjunctival dendritic cell maturation in patients with postmenopausal keratoconjunctivitis sicca.Clinical Trial Registration-URL: Unique identifier: NCT00883649.
PMID: 23884332 DOI: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318299549c
[Indexed for MEDLINE]


Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2009 Aug;247(8):1039-50. doi: 10.1007/s00417-009-1080-z. Epub 2009 May 5.
Efficacy of a 2-month dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids in dry eye induced by scopolamine in a rat model.

Viau S1, Maire MA, Pasquis B, Grégoire S, Acar N, Bron AM, Bretillon L, Creuzot-Garcher CP, Joffre C.
Author information
This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of dietary n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in dry eye in a rat model.
Female Lewis rats were fed with diets containing (1) gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), (2) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or (3) GLA + EPA + DHA, for 2 months before the induction of dry eye using a continuous delivery of scopolamine and during scopolamine treatment. Two, 10 and 28 days after dry-eye induction, clinical signs of corneal dryness were evaluated in vivo using fluorescein staining. MHC II expression and mucin rMuc5AC production in the conjunctival epithelium were evaluated by immunostaining. Lipids and prostaglandins (PGs) E(1) and E(2) were analysed from the exorbital lacrimal gland (LG).
Dietary PUFAs minimised the occurrence of corneal keratitis 28 days after induction of dry eye. The decrease in mucin production observed on the conjunctival epithelium was partially prevented by EPA + DHA supplementation after 2 days of scopolamine treatment, as well as by GLA and GLA + EPA + DHA diets after 10 days of treatment. The overexpression of MHC II in the conjunctival epithelium caused by dry eye induction was significantly reduced only with the GLA + EPA + DHA diet after 28 days of treatment. Dietary PUFAs were incorporated into phospholipids of the exorbital LG. Induction of dry eye was associated with a significant increase in PGE(1) and PGE(2) levels in the exorbital LG, which was inhibited by dietary EPA + DHA at 10 days (for PGE(2)) and 28 days (for PGE(1)).
Dietary GLA, EPA and DHA significantly interfered with lipid homeostasis in the exorbital LG and partially prevented the course of dry eye. In particular, our results demonstrate the efficacy of the combination of n-6 and n-3 PUFAs.
PMID: 19415319 DOI: 10.1007/s00417-009-1080-z
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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So based on these abstracts and my experience it appears that GLA is useful for dry eyes and fish oil may also work well with it, but fish oil alone was not helpful for me. Also of note is that linoleic acid (LA) may work together with GLA to help ameliorate dry eyes. With this information I looked for a supplement that may be potentially better than black currant seed oil and that supplement would be borage oil as it contains a higher percent(24%) of GLA and it also contains LA. Borage oil also has antiinflammatory properties as determined by multiple studies and consequently offers other health benefits beside alleviating dry eyes. On my next supplement order I may add the borage oil to see if it is similar or better than black currant seed oil for amelioratimg dry eyes.

This is what I used:

This will probably be the one I use next for the experiment:


Replied by Jane
(Columbus, Oh)

Art, Thanks very much for posting these studies; that took some time to do. I will be taking this information to my next ophthalmologist appointment next month.

I have two questions for you:

1. Are the borage oil capsules working for you?

2. Have you changed your diet based on the oils mentioned in the studies? If so, how?

Replied by Art
2139 posts

In reply to Jane (Columbus, Oh),

Thank you for asking!

I just started on the borage oil this week as I had another experiment that I needed to finish first, so it is too early yet to know what if anything it will do for dry eyes.

As to diet, I have not changed my diet and don't want to at this point because I want to try and zero in on the affects of the borage oil, if any. If I try something else new at the same time, I can't know for sure whether any potential benefit is attributable to the borage oil, diet or anything else new to my regimen. I will post an update on this borage oil experiment if I find benefit for dry eyes or anything else.