Research has not determined whether it is safe to use coconut oil to treat dry eyes. Anecdotal evidence and limited animal research suggest coconut oil may be a safe and helpful treatment for dry eyes.

However, more research is necessary to determine whether this is true and what dosages may be most effective.

This article looks at coconut oil for dry eyes, what research on the topic says, how to use this oil for dry eyes, and other tips for treating dry eyes. It also answers some frequently asked questions.

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Dry eyes can cause mild to severe symptoms and may have links to a person’s environment, medication, and medical conditions.

People looking for a natural remedy for the condition may be interested in coconut oil, which may have benefits that include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and moisturizing properties.

Theoretical benefits

In people with dry eyes, the eyes do not make enough tears, or something may affect one or more of the layers that make up the tear film.

Lipids are fatty organic compounds. Tear film contains an outer lipid layer and is key in preventing tear evaporation and maintaining a moist eye surface.

An imbalance in the lipids and proteins in the lipid layer of the tear film is present in many cases of dry eye.

Because of this, many lubricating eye drops to treat dry eyes contain lipids, mimicking the lipid layer.

Coconut oil is high in lipids. Because of this and its other potential benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil may be a safe and effective treatment for dry eyes.

However, more research is necessary to determine the oil’s safety, efficacy, and correct dosages to treat dry eyes.

Researchers have not evaluated the treatment, and a person needs to discuss using coconut oil for dry eyes with a healthcare professional first.

There are various medical and home remedies available for dry eyes that may be safer and more effective.

There is inconclusive research on the efficacy and safety of coconut oil for dry eyes.

In research on the topic, researchers use virgin coconut oil, which may be more beneficial than other varieties.

No human studies offer evidence of coconut oil as an effective and safe treatment for dry eyes.

One 2015 study studied the effects of virgin coconut oil as a rewetting agent in rabbits’ eyes.

The researchers administered virgin coconut oil as eye drops to one group of rabbits, a lubricating eye drop product to another group, and saline solution to a third group.

The researchers found that the coconut oil formed a protective layer that kept tears from evaporating and did not cause harmful effects. The coconut oil drops were as effective as the commercial lubricating eye drops.

Research on humans is necessary to determine the effects of coconut oil as an eye lubricant and treatment for dry eyes in people.

A person can consult a doctor if they experience dry eyes or eye irritation to first receive a diagnosis. They need to discuss any at-home treatments and natural remedies with a medical professional.

However, individuals should not combine natural remedies with medications or other natural remedies without a doctor’s approval.

While anecdotal evidence and limited animal research suggest virgin coconut oil is a safe treatment for dry eyes, more research is necessary.

Some eye clinics and people anecdotally report that to use coconut oil for dry eyes, a person can:

  • soak a cotton ball in virgin coconut oil and place it over a closed eyelid
  • gently heat virgin coconut oil in a small bowl over another bowl of warm water to liquefy it, and once it has cooled, administer it to the eyes with a dropper

There are several treatments for dry eyes and tips to help improve the condition.

These include lifestyle changes, such as:

  • wearing eye protection while outdoors, such as sunglasses
  • avoiding wind, smoke, and air conditioning, which can dry the eyes further
  • drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • limiting screen time and taking regular breaks from screens
  • using a humidifier to prevent air from becoming too dry
  • getting at least 7–8 hours of sleep daily
  • eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which may help prevent dry eyes

A person can also use medical treatments, such as:

  • over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, which people also refer to as artificial tears
  • prescription medication for severe cases, such as the eye drops Xiidra (lifitegrast) and Restasis (cyclosporine)
  • in rare cases, surgery to prevent tears from draining from the eyes too quickly
  • tear duct plugs to prevent tears from leaving the eyes

Limited research on animals and anecdotal evidence suggest using virgin coconut oil to treat dry eyes is safe.

However, research on humans is necessary to determine whether coconut oil is a safe, effective treatment for the condition and in what dosage.

One 2015 study on rabbits found virgin coconut oil to be as effective as commercial lubricating eye drops. However, there is no evidence of the efficacy and safety of coconut oil as a treatment in humans for dry eyes.

A person needs to contact an eye doctor if they experience irritated or dry eyes and consult with them before using coconut oil in or near their eyes.

Other treatments, such as over-the-counter artificial tears, may be safer and more effective.