Eyes are a very sensitive organ in the body as they are exposed to all the elements, greatly influenced by sunlight, and are susceptible to all sorts of trauma and infection. General consensus for an eye exam is yearly or every other year, as problems can develop quickly and if caught early are often reversible or correctible.
Many suffer from dry eyes which can cause damage to the cornea and worsen eye strain in an attempt to clear vision. If you experience dry eyes, you are probably already using eye drops, but consider these five tips to help improve your eye health.
1. Look at your medications
If you are on a water pill (diuretic), antihistimines or decongestants during allergy/sinus season, birth control pills and certain over-the-counter pain relievers are known to dry out the eyes. By taking these medications, you may be causing or worsening the situation.
2. Add in some fish oil
Research shows that fish oil helps treat dry eyes by improving the mucus membranes and tear film. Make sure you buy a good quality fish oil that has at least 1000mg (some say go up to 3000mg) of true fish oil in it, that is a combination of EPA and DHA, commonly in a 700mg/300mg ratio. If the ratio is much lower you are not receiving the benefits.
3. Look at other oils
Consider evening primrose oil or borage oil at 3000mg per day or sea buckthorn oil at 2000mg per day. These three oils have all been shown to improve dry eyes and improve mucous membranes. Be careful not to do ALL of these oils listed as they can all act as blood thinners (like aspirin) in high doses.
Talk with your health care provider about trying one or two at a time and see. Remember the oils can take weeks to months to fully improve symptoms so don’t give up if you don’t notice a difference in a week or two.
4. Remember that heat can be drying
Sounds obvious, I know, but many report worse symptoms in the winter when the air is very dry, or that their eyes have increased redness after a hot shower.
Use cold products to improve your eye health. Lay a cold wet washcloth across your eyes at night to ease their strain and irritation, or try a cold liquid filled mask you can pop in the fridge or freezer, then apply to your eyes. Make an adjustment if you have a fan or heat vent blowing directly at your face, as this too can irritate your eyes.
5. Consider eye health supplements
Some research shows that flavonoids such as bilberry and blueberry, antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein, and herbs such as ginkgo biloba and chamomile, are helpful to improving eye health overall and may therefore improve dry eyes.
1. Dry Eyes. Web. 7 March, 2012.
2. There's Nothing Fishy About Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dry Eye Syndrome. Web. 7 March, 2012.
3. Dry Eyes Can Benefit from Sea Buckthorn Oil. Web. 7 March 2012.
4. Dietary Supplements and the Ophthalmologist: Direct Ocular Effects. Web. 7 March, 2012.
5. Zeaxanthin Supplements as Effective as Lutein in AMD. 7 March, 2012.
Reviewed March 8, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith