Turn Around Dry Eyes

Good Saturday all - welcome (if you are on the Gold Coast) to a dry, cool and windy day - the perfect setting for irritating eye symptoms!  As always I aim to time these topics around what is happening in the community so it is relevant and current to you.  Alternatively, if you are reading this from distant shores - store this for your next Winter season or contact me and I will repost or resend when the timing is right for your community.  I've noticed a few red and bleary eyes on my travels of late so it prompted me to discuss why this happens and what we can do about it from both treatment and preventative measures.

Your eyes are particularly sensitive body parts.  They are also geared up to protect themselves so they are highly intelligent too!  Tears are produced by two glands behind each eye ball called lacrimal glands - they are the about the same shape and size as an almond.  Together with these glands, are lacrimal ducts to spread the tears (lacrimal fluid) around and drain the tears away.  Together with tears is a protective layer called tear film which prevent drying and is made up of a few layers - a fat layer, a water layer and a mucinous layer.  All require a cross section of nutrients to maintain their integrity (see below).  A simple eye wash with just water and saline may not soothe as well as you would have hoped!

Tears are a watery solution containing salts, a little mucus and enzymes -all working to clean, lubricate and moisten the eyeballs - proof that a little mucus can be helpful!  Normally tears evaporate away or are taken through the ducts.  However, when the eye is irritated by an internal or external substance or object, tears are produce en masse to clean up and reset the balance.  Tears are also produced in response to emotional changes - humans are unique in that we cry from both happy and sad occurrences!

Dry eyes can also produce loads of tear production as your body sets out to get things back in order again and is often associated with the onset of menopause in women, a syndrome known as Sjogren's Syndrome (glandular condition often seen in menopausal women), allergic responses, connective tissue disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, generic ageing process, infection, irradiation (sun gazing!) and medications including beta blockers, antihistamines (yes they may not be the best thing when you feel it is allergy related!) and other cardiac medications.

If you are taking medication and suffer with dry eyes, it may pay to discuss this with your prescribing GP and consider upping the ante on nutrients that protect the tear film and promote better lubrication.  Here are a few to consider:

1.  Consider a fatty acid supplement such as high EPA/DHA fish oils - make sure they are a clean and reputable brand as some of the cheaper bulk items may actually create more problems than help.

2.  Increase your intake of avocado, nut oils, seeds, nuts and other vegetable fats so that your body can utilise the nutrients coming from those to support anti-inflammatory activity as well as lubrication.

3.  Keep your fluid intake up and consider adding fresh green leafy vegetables to fluids such as smoothies and juices to add extra fat soluble vitamins K and A.

4.  Vitamin A and beta carotene are vital for eye health - hit the orange foods or consider an eye supplement that has herbs such as Eyebright and Bilberry together with vitamin A.

5. Lutein is an important nutrient for eye health - it is a carotenoid similar to beta carotene in carrots and is found in egg yolk and green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach - remember that famous green smoothie?  Contact me for a recipe that incorporates eye soothing ingredients that tastes yum as well!

6.  Address allergic responses and even consider histamine testing (remember my posts a few weeks back on histamine?) - vitamin C and zinc are nutrients that can calm an allergic response down, as can a few select herbs - Albizzia and Perilla.

7.  Ease off the alcohol and sugary sweets as they dehydrate your mucus membranes.

8.  Homeopathic Apis, Allium Cepa, Arsenicum album and Aconite are a few of the more better matched remedies to dry and irritated eyes.

Remember - if your eyes don't 'have it' (meaning good lubricating means) - have a good cry and reach for the phone to call your Naturopath - better pop them on speed dial in case you can't see who you are dialling!


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