Of all our senses we depend on our vision the most. We often take the gift of sight for granted, and that’s why finding it hard to read fine print is one of the most unwelcome signs of aging. Diet, exercise, and home remedies for our eyes can help to keep our eyes healthier and our vision clear for longer.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures by Lydia and Joan Wilen the sisters offer their favorite home remedies for common eye problems to keep eyes sharp and looking their best.

Eye Problems

How very precious our eyes and vision are to each of us. Agreed? Agreed! Then what have you done for your eyes lately? Do you know there’s eye food, eye-strengthening exercises, an acupressure eyestrain reliever, eyewashes to help brighten those baby blues, browns, grays or greens, and natural healing alternatives?

We once noticed a sign in an optometrist’s office that said—“If you don’t see what you want, you’re in the right place.”

Likewise. So read the following eye care suggestions, or get someone to read them to you.

Bloodshot Eyes

• If you don’t drink in excess and you get enough sleep, but still have bloodshot eyes on a regular basis, you may be bothered by your contacts, allergic to the eye makeup you wear or you may be deficient in vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Take 15 mg of B2 daily. You might also want to have a tablespoon of brewer’s yeast every day.


When the lens of your eye becomes opaque (cloudy)—which occurs from old age, injury or a systemic disease like diabetes—then you have a cataract.

There are revolutionary new methods of removing cataracts, where the patient walks in and out of the doctor’s office within a few hours. Cataracts should definitely be treated and removed by a qualified health professional.

Natural Remedies

While you’re checking into today’s modern techniques, you might want to try one or more of the following natural remedies to give you some relief until the cataract is professionally removed…

Mind Your Bs and Cs

• Research scientists have found that a deficiency of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can cause cataracts. So it serves to reason that B2 supplements should help to prevent cataracts and may also clear up existing conditions.

Brewer’s yeast is the richest source of riboflavin. Take one tablespoon a day and/or 15 mg of vitamin B2. Along with a B2 vitamin, take a B-complex vitamin to avoid high urinary losses of B vitamins. Also, eat foods high in vitamin B2—broccoli, salmon, beans, wheat germ, turnip tops and beets.

Vitamin C prevents damage in the watery portions of cells, particularly in the cornea and retina. A Tufts University study reported that women who supplemented their diets with 325 mg of vitamin C daily were 77% less likely to develop cataracts than women who did not supplement.

Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day or eat foods that contain it, such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits and bell peppers.

• For five minutes each day, massage the base of the index and middle (second and third) fingers, as well as the webs between those fingers. The right hand helps the right eye and the left hand helps the left eye.

• The famed 17th-century English physician Nicholas Culpeper was a great believer in the healing effects of chamomile eyewashes to improve a cataract condition.

Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

If your eyes are red, watery and itchy, you may have allergies or just some dust in your eye. But if your eyes are VERY irritated, you may have the serious (and extremely contagious) infection commonly known as pinkeye.

CAUTION: Conjunctivitis is a severe and contagious viral, fungal or allergic infection. If the condition doesn’t show signs of improvement within a day or two, see a health professional.

• Once every day, make a poultice of grated apple or grated raw red potato and place it on your closed eye. Let it stay that way for a half-hour. Within two days—or three at the most—the condition should completely clear up.

• Prepare chamomile tea. When it cools, use it as an eyewash twice a day until the conjunctivitis is gone.

The Eyes Have It

• The plant eyebright is particularly effective in the treatment of conjunctivitis. Add three drops of tincture of eyebright (available at health food stores) to one tablespoon of just boiled water. When cool enough to use, bathe the eye in the mixture.

Since this condition is a very contagious one, wash the eye cup thoroughly after you’ve washed one eye, then mix a new batch of eyebright with water before you wash the other eye. Do this three or four times a day until the condition clears up.

Goat milk yogurt can also help clear up this uncomfortable condition. Apply a yogurt poultice over the infected eye(s) daily.

Also, eat a portion or two of the yogurt each day. The active culture in yogurt can provide you with healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Goat’s milk yogurt is available at some health food stores and specialty markets or can be ordered online.

Dry Eyes

Tear ducts that do not produce enough fluid to keep the eyes moist can result in an uncomfortable dry eye condition that is characterized by irritation, burning and a gravelly feeling.

Natural Tears

Check out homeopathic eyedrops for dry eye syndrome. Homeopathic medications are without side effects and are well-tolerated by even the most sensitive system. They work to restore health rather than to suppress symptoms.

NOTE: To get the most benefit from eyedrops, gently pull out your lower lid and let the liquid drop into the eye pocket. Then keep your eyes closed for about two minutes after putting in the drops. This will prevent the blinking process from pumping the drops out of your eyes.

Similasan Eye Drops, known throughout Europe, are available here in the US. For information about these homeopathic drops, go to SimilasanUSA.com/complete-eye-relief or call Similasan at 800-240-9780.

• You may be able to eliminate artificial tears completely by adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, which may increase the viscosity of oils made by the body, mostly in the skin and eyes. Omega-3s are found abundantly in cold water fish and flaxseed oil. This means eating several servings of fish a week—especially all varieties of salmon (except smoked) and canned white tuna—and/or taking flaxseed oil. We suggest you read about the many benefits of flaxseed oil.

CAUTION: If you’re on blood-thinning medication, have uncontrolled high blood pressure or bleeding disorders, or are going in for surgery, be sure to check with your doctor before taking flaxseed oil.

• Help your eyes do the work they’re supposed to do by opening the clogged oil glands in the eyelids. Take a warm, white washcloth and place it on your closed eyelids. Leave it on until it turns cool—five to 10 minutes. Do this a few times a day—obviously, the more the better.

Eye Irritants


• When chemicals like hair dye get in the eye, immediately wash the eye thoroughly with lots of clean, tepid water. In most cases, you should have a doctor check your eye right after you’ve washed the damaging substance out.


• When something gets in your eye, try not to rub the eye. You’ll irritate it, then it’s hard to tell whether or not the foreign particle is out. Grasp your upper lid lashes firmly between your thumb and index finger. Gently pull the lashes toward the cheek, as far as you can without pulling them out. Hold them there, count to 10, spit three times and let go of the lashes.

Repeat the procedure one more time if necessary. If it still doesn’t work, get an onion and try the next remedy.

• Mince an onion and let your natural tears wash away the dust in your eye.

Get a tissue ready. With one hand, pull your lashes so that the upper lid is away from your eye. With the other hand, appropriately position the tissue in the center of your face and blow your nose three times.

• Warm some pure olive oil in the microwave for a few seconds—long enough to slightly warm the oil. Then, using an eyedropper, put two drops in the irritated eye.

What? You don’t have an eyedropper? Buy one at any health food store or pharmacy and keep it in your medicine chest for just such occasions.

• Until you get an eyedropper, you may want to try this—put one drop of fresh lemon juice in one ounce of warm water and wash your eye with it. It might sting at first, but it should remove the irritant.

• If your eyes are irritated from a foreign particle, cooking fumes, cigarette smoke, dust, etc., put two drops of castor oil or milk in each eye.

CAUTION: Be careful putting any foreign substance or liquid in the eye. It can be painful and may cause infection.

Eye Inflammation

• Peel and slice an overripe apple. Put the pieces of pulp over your closed eyes, holding the pieces in place with a bandage or strip of cloth. Leave it on at least a half-hour to help alleviate irritation and inflammation.

■ Recipe ■

Champagne-Poached Salmon

1 ⁄2 cup honey Dijon mustard

11 ⁄2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped

4 (6 to 8 oz) salmon steaks or fillets, skin and bones removed Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups champagne

1 ⁄4 cup fresh lime juice

4 slices red onion

1 Tbsp capers, optional

4 sprigs fresh tarragon

Mix together mustard and chopped tarragon. Set aside.

Season salmon steaks/fillets lightly with salt and pepper. Place in a pan just large enough to hold the salmon in one layer. Add the champagne, lime juice and just enough water to cover the fish. Remove the fish and bring the liquid to a boil.

Return the salmon steaks/fillets to the pan. Top each with an onion slice, capers and tarragon sprig. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan with foil and poach at no more than a simmer for six to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the salmon).

Remove salmon steaks/fillets from the liquid and place on four warm serving plates. Top each piece of fish with one ounce of the mustard mixture and serve.

Source: RecipeGoldmine.com

• A poultice of either grated raw potato, fresh mashed papaya pulp or mashed cooked beets is soothing and promotes healing. Apply the poultice for 15 minutes, twice a day.

Fashion Statement

• Reuse steeped tea bags. Make sure they’re moist and cool enough to apply to the closed eyelids for 15 minutes. (This remedy is a favorite for fashion models who wake up puffy-eyed.)

• Crush a tablespoon of fennel seeds and add it to a pint of just-boiled water. Let it steep for 15 minutes, then dunk cotton pads in the liquid and place them over your eyelids for about 15 minutes.

• There’s an herb called horsetail that is helpful for inflamed eyes (see “Sources” on page 297 for vendors who might sell the herb). Steep one teaspoon of dried horsetail in hot water for 10 minutes. Saturate cotton pads with it and apply the pads to your eyelids for 10 minutes. Redunk the pads in the liquid, then keep them on your eyes for another 10 minutes. Repeat again after a half-hour, and the inflammation should start calming down.

• Freshly sliced cucumber placed on eyelids for about 15 minutes is soothing and healing.

Eye Puffiness

We know a man who has so much puffiness under his eyes, it looks like his nose is wearing a saddle.

One reason for puffiness may be an excessive amount of salt in one’s diet. Salt causes water retention and water retention causes puffiness. What can be done about it? Stay away from salt. Here are some more suggestions…

• When you want to look your best, set your clock an hour earlier than usual. Give yourself that extra time to depuff. Either that, or sleep sitting up so the puffs don’t get a chance to form under your eyes.

• If you already have puffs, wet a couple of chamomile tea bags with tepid water and put them over your closed eyelids. Relax that way for 15 minutes.

Eyestrain/Tired Eyes

• Pinch the ends of your index and middle (second and third) fingers of each hand for 30 seconds on each finger. If your eyestrain isn’t relieved after two minutes, do another round of pinching.

• Sunflower seeds contain vitamins, iron and calcium that may be extremely beneficial for eyes. Eat about 1 ⁄2 cup of unprocessed (unsalted) shelled seeds every day.

Put Up Your Feet

• If your eyes are strained and tired, chances are the rest of your body is also dragging. Lie down with your feet raised higher than your head. Relax that way for about 15 minutes. This gravity-reversing process should make you and your eyes feel refreshed and rarin’ to go.

■ Recipe ■

Yogurt Fruit Salad with Sunflower Seeds

2 apples, chopped

2 oranges, chopped

2 bananas, chopped

2 pears, chopped

Handful of blueberries

2 peaches, chopped (can be frozen)

Seedless or seeded grapes, chopped

Canned pineapple chunks, drained

1 cup coconut, grated

1 ⁄2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

1 ⁄4 cup honey

1 to 2 cups unflavored yogurt

Combine all the ingredients (you may need to add a little more honey if you like it really sweet). Use your judgment as to how much yogurt to use to make it all stick together. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.

Source: RecipeGoldmine.com

• Cut two thin slices of a raw red potato and keep them on your closed eyelids for at least 20 minutes. Red potatoes are said to have strong healing energy, but any other type of potato will work, too.

• Steep rosemary in hot water for 10 minutes. Use a rosemary tea bag or one teaspoon of the loose herb in a cup of just-boiled water. Saturate a cotton pad with the tea and keep it on your eyes for 15 minutes. Rosemary should help draw out that tired-eye feeling.

Eyestrain Prevention

• Looking at red ink on white paper for long periods of time can cause eyestrain and headaches. Stay out of the red!

Eye Twitch

• Pressure and tension can cause eyelid twitching. Aside from taking a relaxing two week vacation, you should try to eat more calcium-rich foods.

According to some nutritionists, adults can (and should) get all the calcium they require through nondairy foods—green vegetables, sesame seeds, whole grains, unrefined cereals, canned salmon and sardines, soy milk and other soy products, including tofu.


Glaucoma is a loss of vision that usually occurs suddenly and without symptoms. Vision is impaired when there is damage to the optic nerve, but there may be other factors involved. If you are having trouble seeing, see a qualified eye specialist! Early detection and treatment can slow or halt the progression of glaucoma.

CAUTION: Glaucoma is a serious condition. Before using any home remedy, be sure to consult an eye specialist.

• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the US. B2 is also the vitamin that’s most beneficial for eye problems like glaucoma. Take 100 mg every day, along with a B-complex supplement. (The reason for the B-complex supplement is that large doses of any one of the B vitamins can result in urinary losses of other B vitamins.)

• Bathe the eyes morning and evening in an eyewash made with fennel seed, chamomile or eyebright.

CAUTION: Be careful putting any foreign substance or liquid in the eye. It can be painful and may cause infection.

Night Vision

• Eat blueberries when they’re in season. They can help restore night vision.

• You know the old joke about carrots being good for your eyes? Well, you’ve never seen a rabbit wearing glasses. Eat two or three carrots a day (raw or cooked) and/or drink a glass of fresh carrot juice. It’s excellent for alleviating night blindness.

• Eat more watercress in salads and/or drink watercress tea.


If you have a painful red bump on your eyelid, then the sty’s the limit! A sty occurs when the oil glands around the eyelid get infected and inflamed. Some natural remedies may help relieve the discomfort.

• Place a handful of fresh parsley in a soup bowl. Pour a cup of boiling water over the parsley and let it steep for 10 minutes. Soak a clean washcloth in the hot parsley water, lie down, put the cloth on your closed lids and relax for 15 minutes. Repeat the procedure before bedtime. Parsley water is also good for eliminating puffiness around the eyes.

■ Recipe ■

Chilled Czech Blueberry Soup

3 cups blueberries

4 cups water

Pinch of salt

1 ⁄4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

11 ⁄2 cups sour cream

6 Tbsp flour

Boil two cups of the blueberries in the water. Stir in salt, cinnamon and sugar. Remove from heat.

Whip flour into the sour cream, then whip both into the hot liquid. When well blended, return the pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until thickened.

Remove from heat, stir in another 1 ⁄2 cup of blueberries and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, stir in the remaining 1 ⁄2 cup of blueberries and ladle into bowls.

Source: RecipeGoldmine.com

• Moisten a regular (non-herbal) tea bag, put it on the closed eye with the sty, bandage it in place and leave it there for as long as possible. Hopefully, soon enough it will be “bye-bye sty.”

Go for the Gold

• Rub the sty three times with a gold wedding ring. When we started compiling information for this book, we decided not to use any silly-sounding, superstition-based remedies. This remedy for sties, however, comes from so many reputable sources that it must have some credibility.

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for research purposes, neither of us has had a sty since we began working on this book, so we haven’t been able to test the wedding-ring remedy ourselves.

Banish Sties with Bancha

• Roasted-bancha leaves are used to make a popular Japanese tea—these tea bags are available at most US health food stores. Steep a tea bag in hot water for 10 minutes and add one teaspoon of sea salt (also available at health food stores as well as supermarkets). Saturate a cotton pad in the lukewarm liquid and apply it to your closed eye, keeping it there for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day.

• In addition to—or instead of—the roasted blancha tea bag remedy, dab on some castor oil several times throughout the day until the sty disappears.

Sty Prevention

• Lydia went to school with a girl named Madeline whose nickname was “Sty.” She always seemed to have a sty coming or going.

If you’re like Madeline and are prone to sties, prepare a strong cup of burdock-seed tea every morning and take one tablespoon before each meal and one tablespoon at bedtime.

Sun Blindness

Sun blindness is caused by exposure to large expanses of snow or ice for a considerable length of time.

CAUTION: Sun blindness is a serious condition that can lead to cataracts and retinal damage. It should be prevented by wearing protective sunglasses or goggles.

• Skiers find this remedy helpful in coping with large expanses of blinding, white snow. Eat a handful of sunflower seeds every day. (Buy them shelled, raw and unsalted.)

Within no time, the eyes may have a much easier time adjusting to the brightness of the snow, thanks to the sunflower seeds…and a good pair of sunglasses or goggles.

Eye Strengtheners

• Apply cold water on a washcloth to the eyelids, eyebrows and temples each morning, noon and night, five to 10 minutes at a time.

Get a Rosy Outlook

• Throw a handful of rose petals (the petals are more potent as the flower fades) into a pot and cover with water. Put it over a medium flame. When the water boils, take the pot off the flame and let it cool. Then strain the water into a bottle and close it tightly.

When your eyes feel tired and weak and appear red, treat them with the rose petal water. Pour the liquid on a washcloth or cotton pads and keep them on your closed eyes for 15 to 30 minutes. Your outlook might be a lot rosier.

• This is an interesting way to end the day. Prepare a candle, a straight-back chair and a five-minute timer. Light the candle and place it 11 ⁄2 feet from the chair. Then sit in the chair, with your feet uncrossed and flat on the floor. The lit candle should be level with the top of your head.

Set the timer for five minutes. Then, using your index fingers, hold your eyelids open while you stare at the candle without blinking. There will be some tears. Do not wipe them away. Tough out the five minutes every other night for two weeks. Then discontinue the exercise for two weeks. Then start the exercise again, every other night for two weeks.

Once your vision is sufficiently strengthened, blow out the candle for good.

Vision Improvers

• You know all the talk about carrots being good for your eyes? They are! Drink five to six ounces of fresh carrot juice twice a day for at least two weeks. Obviously, you will need a juicer or access to a juice bar. After the two weeks, ease off to one glass of carrot juice a day…forever!

WARNING: If you have a Candida/yeast problem, skip the carrot juice. Its high sugar content can contribute to this condition.

• According to the late J.I. Rodale, organic farming pioneer and founder of Prevention magazine, sunflower seeds are a miracle food. We agree. Eat a handful (shelled, raw and unsalted) every day.

Eye, Eye Matey

• We’ve heard that wearing a gold earring in your left ear improves and preserves one’s eyesight, but we thought it was a useless superstition.

Then we read in David Louis’s book, 2201 Fascinating Facts (Greenwich House) that pirates believed that piercing their ears and wearing earrings improved their eyesight—and the swashbucklers may have been right.

The idea, which had been scoffed at for centuries, has been reevaluated in light of recent acupuncture theory, which holds that the point of the lobe where the ear is pierced is the same acupuncture point that controls the eyes.

Hmmmm. Get out the gold earrings.

■ Recipe ■

Lemon–Parsley Carrots

1 lb carrots sliced

1 ⁄4-inch thick (about 3 cups)

2 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp parsley, freshly chopped

1 ⁄2 tsp lemon peel, grated

2 tsp lemon juice

1 ⁄4 tsp salt

Place carrots and water in a two-quart covered glass casserole. Microwave, covered, at 100% power (700 watts) for eight to nine minutes until crisp-tender, stirring once after five minutes. Drain. Stir in butter, sugar, parsley, lemon peel and juice, and salt. Microwave, covered, at 100% power for one to 11 ⁄2 minutes until heated through.

Makes four servings.

Source: RecipeGoldmine.com

Palm Power

• We’ve thoroughly researched “palming” and no two of our resources agree on the procedure. We’ll give you a couple of variations. Test them and see what works for you.

Sit. (They all agree on that.) Rub your hands together until you feel heat. Place your elbows on the table in front of you, then put the heels of your hands over your eyes, blocking out all light. Some feel it’s better to keep one’s eyes open in the dark while others advocate closed eyes. The length of time to sit this way also ranges—from two minutes to 10 minutes.

“Palming” is beneficial for improving vision, for nearsightedness, tired eyes, astigmatism and inflammation…and it may even help squinters stop squinting.

Eyeglass Cleaners

• To avoid streaks on your eyeglass lenses, clean them with a lint-free cloth and a touch of vinegar or vodka


Commercial eyedrops eliminate the redness because of a decongestant that constricts the blood vessels. Using these drops on a regular basis can worsen the problem. The blood vessels will enlarge again in less and less time. Make your own eyedrops from the following herbs, or just bathe your eyes with these eyewashes.

NOTE: It’s important to make sure that all the ingredients are hygienic—boiled and/ or sterilized.


• To make an eyebright eyewash, add one ounce of the whole dried herb eyebright to one pint of boiling-hot water and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture thoroughly through a superfine strainer or through unbleached muslin. Wait until it’s cool enough to use.

• Add three drops of tincture of eyebright to a tablespoon of boiled water and wait until it’s cool enough to use.


• Add one teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to one cup of just-boiled water. Steep for five minutes and strain the mixture thoroughly through a superfine strainer or through unbleached muslin. Wait until it’s cool enough to use.

• Add 12 drops of tincture of chamomile to one cup of boiling-hot water. Wait until it’s cool enough to use.

Fennel Seeds

• Add one teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to one cup of boiling-hot water. Steep for five minutes and strain the mixture thoroughly through a superfine strainer or through unbleached muslin. Wait until it’s cool enough to use.

Red (Eye) Alert

If you use artificial tears, do not use any product that also “gets the red out.” When your eyes are red or bloodshot, it’s because there’s a problem. Your body’s way of handling the problem is by enlarging the delicate veins or blood vessels in your eyes. The eye drops that “get the red out” are vasoconstrictors that shrink those veins so that they’re not visible. This is not a good thing and is only a temporary masking of the problem.

Also, your eyes can become dependent on those drops and, when you stop using them, the problem will worsen and the blood vessels in your eyes will be more dilated than before.

When you use artificial tears, make sure the box says preservative-free or non-preserved. Preservatives in artificial tears can be harmful to your eyes.


• Carefully wash a bunch of carrots and cut off the tops. Place a handful of the clean carrot tops in a jar of distilled hot water. Let it stand. When it’s cool, use the carrot water as an eyewash.

You can also drink the remaining liquid. This drink should help your eyes and also help strengthen your kidneys and bladder.

• Mix one drop of lemon juice in one ounce of warm distilled water and use it as an eyewash. It’s particularly effective when your eyes have been exposed to dust, cigarette smoke, harsh lights and chemical compounds in the air.

Eyewash Directions

NOTE: Always remove contact lenses before doing an eyewash.

You’ll need an eye cup (available at drugstores). Carefully pour boiling water over the cup to sterilize it. Without contaminating the rim or inside surfaces of the cup, fill it half full with whichever eyewash you’ve selected.

Lean forward, apply the cup tightly to the eye to prevent spillage, then tilt your head backward. Open your eye wide and rotate your eyeball to thoroughly wash the eye.

Lean over again and remove the cup. Clean the cup again, and use the same procedure with the other eye.

To find more remedies for improving daily life check out Secret Food Cures from Bottomlineinc.com.

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