Eye Care by Lois

Beautiful rainbows and amazing sunsets are only a few of the pleasures our eyes let us see. Good eye care is so important. The eye has three layers that keep it moist for vision and protection.   A watery solution is secreted and mixes with fatty acids that are secreted by 40 meibomian glands located on the eye lids. This keeps the eye moist. Excessive exposure to drying environmental factors such as dry, sunny or windy climates, cigarette smoke, and high altitudes are a challenge for the eyes to stay moist.  Also, as we age the secretions decrease, especially in post-menopausal women.  Some medications also dry the eyes. If the meibomian glands get inflamed, they
can block the fatty acid secretions resulting in the watery solution drying too quickly. A condition called DRY EYE results. Symptoms of dry eye include a feeling of sandy, gritty irritation, redness, burning, blurred vision, and/or excessive tearing.

Preliminary research has shown that supplementing the diet with omega 3 fatty acids help to clear and thin the fatty acid secretions from the meibomian glands.  This can then increase the fatty acid secretions mixing with the watery solution and prevent the eyes from drying too quickly. Fish oil (1-2000mg) or flax oil (1-2000mg) taken daily appears to be a therapeutic dose. Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) found in fish oil and converted from alpha linolenic acid in flax oil helps reduce the inflammation. Two tablespoons of ground flax seeds provide 3000 mg Omega 3’s. (Long term use of fish oil supplements in some individuals has been shown to cause a vitamin E deficiency, so make sure the fish oil supplement has vitamin E or some other supplement provides it.) Walnuts are a good source of Omega 3’s as well as vitamin E and can benefit the diet. Black currant seed oil has also been shown to be as effective as fish or flax oil and is found in healthy eye formulas we carry at Corners. Helpful procedures include:

  1. Washing the eyelids daily with a mild baby wash.
  2. Applying warm compresses for 5 minutes to the eyes, which help soften the oils in the meibomian gland, then massaging the eyelids upwards to expell the oil. The compress can be soaked in a warm tea including the herbs eyebright, mullein, or goldenseal to enhance the healing benefits.
  3. Using eyedrops that contain castor oil emulsions to moisten the eye.
  4. Adding an eye supplement that specifically supports eye health. These would often include beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, copper, selenium, and herbs such as eyebright, ginkgo biloba, and/or schisandra.
  5. Of course, eating a diet of abundant fruits and vegetables, high in antioxidants, whole grains and beans, nuts and seeds will support overall health including our eyes.

Enjoy those rainbows and sunsets!

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