Share on Pinterest
Millann/Getty Images

If you have dry eye syndrome, you’re not alone. In the United States, about 6.8 percent of adults experience the condition.

Dry eye syndrome, or dry eye disease, occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears. It may also happen if your eyes don’t produce the right kind of tears. This can cause burning, stinging, and irritation in your eyes.

Luckily, there are several ways to manage your symptoms. This includes taking various supplements or vitamins for dry eyes.

It’s worth noting that the research on supplements for dry eyes is still evolving. Plus, taking too much of some vitamins can cause negative side effects. You might already be getting enough of certain nutrients through your diet, so talk with your doctor before taking supplements.

Read on to learn about dry eye vitamins and supplements, plus other home remedies for easing your symptoms.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s essential for eye health. You need it to produce tears and lubricate your eyes. But a vitamin A deficiency can lead to eye issues, including dry eyes.

In a small 2019 study, participants with dry eyes took a daily oral vitamin A supplement for 3 days. Each dose was 5,000 international units (IU). After 3 days, the participants had better quality tears.

According to the researchers, vitamin A improves the smoothness of the tear film. This is the thin layer of fluid on the eye. It also supports the formation of tears.

The results suggest that a daily dose of 5,000 IU may improve dry eye symptoms. However, more research is necessary to determine the recommended dose and if the benefits continue with long-term use.

If you choose to take vitamin A, avoid taking more than 10,000 IU to prevent toxicity. Since the nutrient is fat-soluble, it can build up in your body. Vitamin A toxicity can cause:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • skin irritation
  • joint pain

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Your skin makes vitamin D when you’re exposed to the sun. You can also get it from supplements and some foods.

A deficiency in vitamin D can cause dry eye symptoms. However, supplements may help by reducing inflammation on the eye’s surface, according to a 2020 article.

A 2019 study found that vitamin D supplementation improves the effects of lubricating eye drops, another dry eye treatment. A 2018 study also determined that oral vitamin D supplements improved tear quality and dry eye symptoms.

To date, there’s no recommended vitamin D dose for treating dry eye. If you take vitamin D supplements, avoid exceeding 4,000 IU to prevent toxicity. Like vitamin A, vitamin D is fat-soluble and can accumulate in the body.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body make DNA and nerve cells. Deficiency of this nutrient is associated with severe dry eye disease and eye pain, according to a 2017 study.

In a 2020 study, the combination of oral vitamin B12 supplements and artificial tears improved symptoms of dry eye syndrome. According to the researchers, vitamin B12 may repair the corneal nerve layer, or the nerves on the eye’s outer surface. This can help reduce the burning associated with dry eye.

A 2015 case report also shares that vitamin B12 supplements improved symptoms in a person with chronic dry eye.

There isn’t a recommended vitamin B12 dosage for dry eye symptoms. Additionally, how much you should take depends on your ability to absorb the vitamin. Though doses of 2,000 micrograms are generally considered safe, talk with a doctor before taking vitamin B12 for dry eye.

Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It provides structure to cell membranes and reduces inflammation in the body.

In a 2016 study, omega-3 supplements improved dry eye symptoms in people with rosacea. Another 2015 study found that omega-3 supplements eased dry eye symptoms in people with computer vision syndrome. According to the study, the omega-3 fatty acids reduced the rate of tear evaporation.

A 2019 review shares that omega-3 fats may work by reducing inflammation. This can alleviate symptoms like irritation and pain.

There is some conflicting evidence, though. For example, a 2018 study, found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements didn’t improve symptoms of dry eye. More research is necessary.

There’s no official recommended omega-3 dose for treating dry eyes. But according to a 2014 review, ophthalmologists generally suggest 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fats each day.

In addition to taking dry eye supplements, you can also try other home remedies to alleviate your symptoms.

Home remedies include:

  • Try artificial tears. Artificial tears are designed to lubricate your eyes. You can find artificial tears over the counter at drugstores.
  • Use a humidifier. Dry, warm air can worsen your symptoms. Use a humidifier to increase moisture in the room.
  • Avoid the wind. The wind can further dry out your eyes. Wear protective eyeglasses to shield your eyes.
  • Avoid smoke and air conditioning. Try to stay away from smoke, like cigarette smoke, and air conditioning units.
  • Take breaks when using digital screens. Avoid using the computer or smartphone for a long time. Blink often to lubricate your eyes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking a lot of fluids may support tear production.
  • Apply a warm compress. Placing a warm compress on your eyes might offer some relief.
  • Massage your eyelids. Gently massaging your eyelids might reduce symptoms and help lubricate your eyes.

If home remedies don’t alleviate your symptoms, seek medical help. You should also talk with a doctor if you have:

These symptoms might be caused by a more serious underlying condition.

Your doctor might suggest prescription eye drops to help your eyes produce more tears. The two types of eye drops used for dry eyes are called cyclosporine (Restasis) and lifitegrast (Xiidra).

In some cases, your doctor may recommend punctal plugs or surgery. These treatments work by keeping tears in your eyes.

If you have mild dry eye symptoms, taking certain supplements might help. Vitamin A may increase tear production, while vitamin B12 might alleviate burning. Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements may reduce inflammation.

Talk with a doctor before taking supplements and vitamins for dry eye. In high doses, some of these supplements can be unsafe. Your doctor can determine the best vitamin and dose for your symptom.

If you have severe dry eye, or if you have sudden vision changes, talk with your doctor immediately.