O c u l a r      N u t r i t i o n

Many eye conditions stem from the body's deficiency of vitamins or minerals. Dry eye disease is one of these. Sometimes, defeating dry eye simply involves dietary changes or supplements. 

The body and eyes require 40 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants daily for optimal health and disease prevention. These can be derived from fruits and vegetables in the diet (without taking supplements). However, the Department of Agriculture found that 85% of the population consume less than 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables per day when the FDA recommends 9 to 13 servings!

It is also true that 65% of the population is overweight and much of healthcare is spent on managing the medical expenditures of complications of those overweight or obese. This excess weight gain increases the risk of developing systemic and eye disease. 

It is our job as your eye doctors to provide education on the nutrition changes available to you for combating dry eye disease.

Nutrition for Dry Eye Syndrome

 

Essential Fatty Acids

 

Omega 6 Gamma Linolenic Acid

Evening Primose Oil

Borage Seed Oil

Black Currant Seed Oil

 

Omega 3 EPA and DHA

Cold Water Fish (e.g. Atlantic Salmon, Blue Tuna, Sardines, Anchovies, and Atlantic Mackerel)

 

Omega 3 Linolenic Acid  

Flax Seed- grounded

 

 

How to Read Fish Oil Labels

 

There is often confusion with omega 3 labels and supplement fact panels. Make sure to read the supplement facts to know how much EPA + DHA you are getting. 1000 mg fish oil soft gel only refers to the size of the tablet, not the amount of EPA + DPA.

 

 

 

 

Vitamins and Minerals

 

Vitamin B6

 

            Bran (Wheat and Rice)                          Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Cod)                    

            Garlic                                                   Sunflower Seeds

            Liver                                                     Lean Pork Tenderloin

            Pistachios                                            Molasses

            Liver                                                     Hazelnuts

            Ground Spices (e.g. chili powder, garlic powder, ground sage)

Zinc

 

            Oysters                                                Toasted Wheat Germ

            Veal Liver                                             Roast Beef

            Roasted Pumpkin Seeds                      Dark Chocolate (70% or greater)

            Dried Watermelon Seeds                      Lamb

            Peanuts                                               Crab

Magnesium

 

            Dark Leafy Greens                               Nut and Seeds

            Fish (Halibut)                                        Dark Chocolate

            Dried Fruit                                            Beans and Lentils

            Whole Grains                                        Avocados

            Bananas                                              Low-Fat Dairy (Yogurt)

Vitamin C

 

Red/Green Hot Chili Peppers                Guava

Strawberries                                         Kiwi Fruit

Oranges and Tangerines                      Bell Peppers

Fresh Herbs                                          Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Broccoli                                                Papaya

Cauliflower                                           Brussels Sprouts

Vitamin E

 

Sunflower Seeds                                  Paprika and Chili Powder

Almonds                                               Chili Powder

Dried Herbs                                          Dried Apricots

Pickled Olives                                       Cooked Spinach

Cooked Taro Root                                Pine Nuts

Vitamin A

 

Liver                                                     Sweet Potato

Dark Leafy Green Vegetables               Carrots

Butternut Squash                                  Lettuce

Dried Apricots                                       Cantaloupe

Dried Herbs                             

Paprika, Red Pepper, Cayenne, and Chili Powder

There are two essential fatty acids (EFA) that the body cannot produce on its own. You may have heard of these! They are Omega-6 and Omega-3. Omega-6 is the most plentiful in the American diet. Omega-3 can be found in seed oils and cold water fish. The actual American diet ranges of a 25:1 ratio of 6:3, which actually increases the risk of dry eye. The recommended ratio is only 4:1. This means that many of us are going WAY over the recommended ratio.

Omega-6 has been given a bad-rap because processed foods are loaded with sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, or soybean oil. The two omegas are meant to work together. When processed foods are eaten, too much omega-6 is consumed compared to omega-3 and this results in an imbalance. Because omega-3 is lacking, it cannot help omega-6 convert to the "good stuff" which is PGE-1, seen in the pathway above. PGE-1 is responsible in part for anti-inflammation (including decreasing inflammation on the ocular surface). Funny how that works, huh? Instead, the body is left with an excess of DGLA that is INSTEAD converted (in the absence of omega-3) to arachidonic acid. This is the stuff that promotes inflammation! Interesting, it is also the culprit that you knock out its products with ibuprofen or aspirin.

By consuming oral omega-6 and the right amount of omega-3, this reduces turbidity of Meibomian gland secretions and it decreases obstruction of the glands.

Their effects can also be seen in Sjogren's syndrome and aqueous deficient Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye). As products of omega-6 increased in tears, patients had improved surface signs and increased comfort by decreasing ocular inflammation.

In order for the body to properly metabolize omega-6 into the beneficial bi-products, it  needs an enzyme called D-6D (delta-6 desaturase). This enzyme is decreased with age, inflammation, smoking, alcohol, and vitamin deficiencies.

 

Without omega-3, Meibomian glands have thicker secretions (more like pus than healthy oils).

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