Over 22 million people suffer from dry eyes. Dry eyes can cause such intolerable symptoms, preventing those suffering from continuing with their day-to-day activities. Dry eye is caused from a disruption of the eyes tear film.
The tear film is a nourishing and lubricating layer on the front surface of your eyes. It is made up of three layers:
- Outer oil layer
- Middle aqueous (watery) layer
- Inner mucus layer
The mucus layer acts like a glue to “stick” the tear film to the eye; the aqueous layer nourishes the eye and the oil layer acts as a moisturizer to prevent evaporation of the aqueous layer. When either of these layers fails to produce properly, the result is dry eye!
Symptoms of Dry Eye
- Watery eyes
- Grittiness or foreign body sensation
- Intermittent blurry vision
Causes of Dry Eye
Environmental: Dry climates, air conditioning, wind or smoke exposure as well as working on a computer for long periods of time
Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eye through hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives and post menopause.
Medications: Decongestant, antihistamines and antidepressants can cause of dry eye
Medical conditions: Arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid problems can all lead to dry eye
Eyewear: Use of contact lenses can exacerbate dry eye
Surgery: Many eye surgeries including LASIK may lead to temporary dryness
Self remedies: Blinking more; taking more breaks when using a computer, watching television or reading a book; drinking more water; increasing the humidity in the home and office; wearing wrap around frames/sunglasses when outdoors;
Adding artificial tears: Frequently using over the counter lubricating eyedrops to replace moisture that is being lost throughout the day
Nutrition: Eating more fish and taking omega-3 supplements as well as other essential fatty acids
Punctal Plugs: Blocking the tear ducts with small invisible silicone or collagen plugs that provide immediately relief of dry eye symptoms
Medicines: Restasis is a prescription eye drop specifically used to treat eye inflammation that leads to dry eye.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies have confirmed that increasing your intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids improve dry eyes. Fish like Salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, trout, halibut, snapper and seafood such as scallops are rich in omega-3, particularly the fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids help to reduce the inflammation that impairs tear production.
If you cannot eat fish or are vegetarian, fish oil capsules are also available. Oil from nuts and seeds are also rich in omega-3, like flaxseed and borage seed, though you need twice as much omega-3 from nuts and seeds as you would from fish, since the EPA and DHA levels are lower in nuts and seeds.
Eating healthy and improving your lifestyle can play a role in preventing or easing the discomfort of dry eye. Dr. Bhakta knows that good vision requires good care of your body. Invest in your eye health and your vision by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam today to receive expert eye and vision care.