Friday, July 18, 2008

Dry Eyes - Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids, etc.

Utah is tough on dry eyes. Dry air, heat, air conditioning, lots of sunshine and glare, and, unfortunately, poor air quality are all to blame.

I have always had underactive tear ducts and desert-dry Utah definitely makes them worse. Some kind of allergy, maybe due to the abundant construction dust being kicked up next door, also seems to have snuck in to peeve my eyes.

So, I started reading about dry eyes and these are the common things to avoid:
  • Allergenic food (yep, it's advised to stop sneaking things like wheat, dairy, corn, and nightshade vegetables into the diet)
  • Caffeine (those delightful double espressos have to go too?!)
  • Toxic fats (from red meat, dairy products, fried foods - not such a hard category for me to avoid)
  • Sugar (especially over 11 teaspoons a day -- let's see, if the coffee goes, so goes some of the sugar!)

Apparently, sugar and even artificial sweeteners are some of the worst offenders in making dry eyes worse.

For improving dry eyes, here are some things to include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (1-2 grams DHA from flaxseed oil or fish oil)
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (GLA from borage, black current or evening primrose oils)
  • Glucosamine (500mg three times a day - when cornea damage is involved)
  • Multi-vitamins (vitamins A, C at 300-500mg, D3, E, B6 at 50mg, and Magnesium are all important)
  • Probiotics (5-10 billion CFU three times daily, especially for people with Sjogren's syndrome)
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (200mg three times daily for Sjogren's syndrome , a more serious condition with a hallmark of dry eyes)
  • Turmeric (that fabulous curry spice that's anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant)
  • Water (8-10 glasses a day for plenty of cellular hydration)
  • Preservative-free eye drops (for lubrication and not to get the red out -- some recommend MSM eye drops, but I don't have any experience with them yet)
  • Humidity (a humidifier running all the time at work/home would help out here the arid intermountain West!)

My favorite encouragement from the opthamologist who checked my eyes out? Consider moving to a cooler, more moist, coastal climate!

Yeah! I've long had the Bay area in my sights, and now I have yet another reason to go to the coast -- where foggy days often prevail and dry desert winds blow far away! :-)

Postscript: I had an appointment at the Moran Eye Institute yesterday with a lovely opthamologist. He shook his head and said that I have rosacea eyes and need to be much more careful about my diet (and I love spicey food, citrus fruit, tomatoes, avocados, vanilla, chocolate, coffee --all of which are considered trigger foods) as well as some favored relaxation options (saunas, hot tubs hot baths -- again, all bad). I guess I'm destined to live on a pretty basic diet for life if I want to be symptom free. Sigh.


Katie said...

Additional information about dry eyes, dry eye symdrome, causes and where to find a dry eye specialist can be found at:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I subscribe to Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD's Health Newsltter, and he says that in rosacea he has found repeatedly in his clinical practice that the person is greatly improved by taking betaine hydrochloride to replace inadequate gastric acid. This low HCL leads to poor nutrient digestion and absorption and is the "root" cause of the rosacea. Best to go straight to the source here and read what Dr. Wright has to say. A quick web search will find his website and writings. Hope this helps someone. I read lots of health newsletters and articles, and love to pass on some information that might make a difference to suffering people.

Anonymous said...

Have you had them check to see if you have blepheritis? I had the most painful case of dry eyes once. Went to an eye dr and he did not help at all.
Then at my own expense, went to another eye dr. He immediately said "You have blepheritis" whioh is an eyelid infection.
Look closely at eyelids if they have small bumps.
Scrub with a q-tip dampened with baby shampoo daily to keep under control.
Thought this might help someone.

Cindy Marteney, CEO, Our Health Co-op said...

Re the low stomach acid (HCl), I had not thought about that as I thought I was digesting everything just fine. Upon doing a search on the topic, I found the following article, which makes me want to get my HCl levels checked!;col1

Thanks for the tip!

Cindy Marteney, CEO, Our Health Co-op said...

Re the blepharitis, the doc does want me to do twice daily warm compresses and clean my eyelids out, but I've been resistant to using the baby shampoo he suggested. I will try this too. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I once had constant problems with Chalazion cyst on my eyelids. (Painful and very ugly) The opthomologist gave me antibiotics, lanced the cyst and had me do the baby shampoo cleanse. Baby shampoo has sodium lauryl sulfate in it which can cause blindness. The cyst kept recurring. I started using homeopathic staphysagria and Thuja occidentalis alternating three pellets of each, three times per day for three months. This was at least 15 years ago. I have not had a recurrence.