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Nisha R. Patel, MD
How Your Diet Can Affect Your Dry Eyes
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How Your Diet Can Affect Your Dry Eyes

Are your eyes burning, red, itchy and even light sensitive? Does it feel like you have sand in your eyes? Does your vision occasionally blur when reading or when you are on the computer? Do you have to use several tear supplements throughout the day just to feel relief or to see better? If so, you may be suffering from dry eyes.
Dry eyes is an eye condition typically characterized by the symptoms above. There are many reasons why people develop dry eyes including medications, dehydration, previous eye surgery, autoimmune disease, abnormal eyelid anatomy, previous eye infections or inflammations, but the underlying problem in all of these causes of dry eye is inflammation of the eye.
Our eyes produce tears that consist of three layers, the innermost mucous layer, the middle watery layer and the outermost fatty layer. Alterations in one or more of these layers, which occurs when the eyes are inflamed, can lead to dry eye.
How can your diet help your dry eyes?
Easy. Drink lots of water. Water can help prevent the eyes from drying out, as it does for many other tissues in the body. Limiting our intake of caffeine, alcohol and soda can also help our bodies and eyes stay hydrated.
Research has proven that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seed oil or fish oil, are essential in maintaining a healthy tear film. Flax seed oil contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is converted to EPA and DHA, essential omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA suppress inflammation by generating anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. They also block the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids and the production of inflammatory cytokines. The overall effect is reduced inflammation of the ocular tissues and relief of dry eyes.
Fish oil, soy and legumes are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be 4 1 or less, but unfortunately the average diet contains an abundance of processed food and meats, giving us a ratio of 10 1 or greater.
It is recommended to take 500mg of DHA (fish oil) or 14grams flaxseed oil (one tablespoon or three to six capsules) per day. These supplements can cause gastrointestinal side effects, so it is important to check with your doctor before beginning these supplements. For best absorption, flaxseed oil can be taken with drinks, cottage cheese or yogurt.
To see if you suffer from dry eye and for other treatment options, call for an appointment today with your ophthalmologist.

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