Combating Dry Eyes: How TCM can help

A recent article from Channel News Asia (CNA) features a breakthrough study that suggests acupuncture is a viable treatment option for people who suffer from dry eye syndrome.

The study jointly published by Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institute (SCHMI) shows that acupuncture significantly improves composition of actual tears and lowers inflammation in the eyes, which in turn, relieves symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when there is a decrease in tear production, or when tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly.  

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include but are not limited to:

  • Eye irritation
  • Eye fatigue
  • Watery eyes (body’s response to irritation of dry eyes)
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness

To date, the number of sufferers from dry eye syndrome are on the rise due to an increased amount of screen time in recent years (as compared to those days where we were still using pagers and Nokia phones!).

TCM treatments for dry eye syndrome


acupuncture on the face

Acupuncture can  help with dry eyes by:
– Increasing blood circulation to the eyes, reducing dryness
– Stimulating tear production by targeting select acupoints

A study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) found that acupuncture treatment for dry eyes was 16% more effective in providing symptomatic improvement compared to just using artificial tears alone.
The study suggested that acupuncture led to an increase in the beneficial proteins found in tears while reducing inflammatory proteins. This helps to resolve the symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome. 

Herbal medication

chinese herbsChinese herbal medication are often prescribed alongside acupuncture for dry eyes.

Numerous studies on the use of Chinese herbs to treat dry eye syndrome have found herbal medication to be effective, additionally without causing side effects. These herbal medications aid in providing anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory agents, as well as hormone-like compounds or cell-repairing agents in the treatment.

DIY TCM tips for dry eye syndrome

Lifestyle modifications

To prevent dry eyes, the Chinese medicine advice would be to:

  • Avoid cold, spicy, and oily food
  • Maintain work-life balance
  • Regulate emotions and cultivate a peaceful mindset.
    This important in maintaining healthy
    zang fu-organs, so that they can carry out their function to transporting essence and nutrients to the eyes so as to ensure good visual function. This is especially so for the Liver which is in charge of our eyes.

Herbal tea recipes for dry eyes

Recipe 1


  • White Chrysanthemum Flowers (白菊花, Bai Ju Hua) 6g
  • Wolfberries (枸杞, Gou Qi) 6g


  1. Put both ingredients into a cup and pour boiling water over it.
  2. Let it steep for 10 mins before consumption.

Recipe 2


  • Dendrobium (石斛, Shi Hu) 10g
  • Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (玉竹, Yu Zhu) 5g
  • Wolfberries (枸杞子, Gou Qi Zi) 5g


  1. Put all ingredients into a teapot and pour boiling water over it.
  2. Let it steep for 10 mins before consumption.

Recipe 3


  • Chrysanthemum (菊花, Ju Hua) 6g
  • Wolfberries (枸杞子, Gou Qi Zi) 6g
  • Ophiopogon tuber (麦冬, Mai Dong) 6g
  • Oroxylum seed (木蝴蝶Mu Hu Die) 6g


  1. Put both ingredients into a teapot and pour boiling water over it.
  2. Let it steep for 10 mins before consumption.

Choose any recipe based on your personal preference. The recommended frequency is to drink it 3 days in a week, 2 times per day. 

Acupressure massages for dry eye

You can also massage these acupoints daily. 

Press and rub the acupoints in circular motion for 5 minutes once daily. Soreness should be felt at the acupoints when rubbing.

For more effective results or more serious cases, to undergo a consultation and assessment with a TCM physician, who can recommend the best treatments for each patient’s condition. Book your appointment with a PULSE TCM physician. 

Additional tips to prevent dry eye syndrome

  • Avoid air blown towards your eyes (e.g. fan)
  • Avoid prolonged or excessive visual tasks, and take 5 minute breaks after every 45 minutes of work 
  • Avoid dusty or dry environments and maintain a certain moisture level in the air
  • Adopt healthy dietary habits, ensure sufficient intake of lutein and zeaxanthin or Vitamin A, B, C, and E

Examples of food rich in the element:

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.