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.
1. “Prevalence and risk factors associated with dry eye symptoms: a population based study in Indonesia,” Br J Ophthalmol. 2002 Dec; 86(12): 1347–1351
2. “Dry eye in vitamin D deficiency: more than an incidental association,” International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, Volume 19, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 49–54
3. “Plasma vitamin D and serum total immunoglobulin E levels in patients with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis,” Acta Ophthalmol. 2014 Sep;92(6):e443-6
4. “Low Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels Are Associated with Dry Eye Syndrome,” PLoS One. 2016 Jan 25;11(1):e0147847
5. “Vitamin D Promotes Protein Homeostasis and Longevity via the Stress Response Pathway Genes skn-1,ire-1, and xbp-1,” Cell Reports 17, October 25, 2016, 1227–1237
6.”Vitamin D enhances corneal epithelial barrier function,” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Sep 21;52(10):7359-64
7. “The core mechanism of dry eye disease is inflammation,” Eye Contact Lens. 2014 Jul;40(4):248-56
8. “Dry eyes: etiology and management,” Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul;19(4):287-91, Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul;19(4):287-91
9. “Relation between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;82(4):887-93
10. “Relation between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;82(4):887-93
11. “A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome,” Int J Ophthalmol. 2013; 6(6): 811–816
12. “Omega-3 essential fatty acids therapy for dry eye syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies,” Med Sci Monit. 2014 Sep 6;20:1583-9
13. “Pilot, prospective, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial of an omega-3 supplement for dry eye,” Cornea. 2011 Mar;30(3):308-14
14. “Efficacy of a new prescription-only medical food supplement in alleviating signs and symptoms of dry eye, with or without concomitant cyclosporine A,” Clin Ophthalmol. 2011;5:1201-6
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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