They’re your windows to the world, but some days your eyes feel more like a sand covered beach. Itchy dry eyes plague an estimated 7 to 10 million of us in the United States alone.1
For some folks genetics could be contributing to your scratchy parched peepers. For others a medication may play a role. And for many diet is the key player. But no matter what the cause, if you’re suffering from dry eyes you want one thing, and that’s some soothing relief.
Well you’re in luck. It turns out two key nutrients could help you trade your scratchy dry eyes in for comfy clear vision instead.
Ditch dry eyes with vitamin D
The so-called sunshine vitamin may be your eyes best friend. Research has revealed that running low on vitamin D could be linked to dry eyes. Experts believe the vitamin helps protect us against symptoms of the condition.2,3,4 And since studies show that lots of us, especially seniors, are low on this vital vitamin restoring your D levels could turn out to be the key to relieving your own dry eyes.5
A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science found that vitamin D improves the function of the protective layer in your eyes known as the corneal epithelial barrier.6 And, as a natural anti-inflammatory, D could help reduce the inflammation that’s at the heart of annoyingly dry eyes.7.8
If you suspect low vitamin D may be behind your own case of dry eyes your doctor can check your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test. There are also vitamin D testing kits available online.
You can raise your D levels by making sure to add more vitamin-D rich foods to your diet including portabella mushrooms, smoked salmon, swordfish, cod liver oil, and dairy products. Spending at least 20 minutes a day outside in the sunshine with your face and arms exposed will help raise your levels too. And supplements can help make up any shortfalls.
Soothe itchy irritated eyes with omega-3s
Eye experts say omega-3 fatty acids could be the key to relieving some cases of dry eyes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet higher in omega-3s is linked to a lower risk for dry eye syndrome.9
Researchers say that women who eat more omega-3 foods have a 20 percent lower risk of developing dry eyes and those who eat fish five times a week are 68 percent less likely to have them than ladies who eat only one.10,11 And a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies concluded that omega-3s could help relieve your dry-eye symptoms and even keep them from coming back.12
In one randomized, double-blind study published in the journal Cornea volunteers with dry eyes who took an omega-3 supplements for three months had a significant improvement in their symptoms and were producing more tears by the end of the study.13 And in another study a supplement combining omega-3s and omega-6s effectively relieved dry eye symptoms as well.14
To raise your own levels add more omega-3-rich foods to your shopping list. For example cold water fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna as well as walnuts, chia seed and flax seed are all rich in the eye-friendly nutrient.
Omega-3 supplements are available too. Look for one that includes both EPA and DHA. Be sure to take them with a meal that contains fat to help increase absorption and consider taking a vitamin E with mixed tocopherols supplement as well to combat any potential oxidation.