Many eye conditions, including dry eye disease, stem from the body's deficiency of vitamins or minerals. Sometimes, simple dietary changes can improve dry eye disease.
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 or with 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 our job as your eye doctors to provide education on the nutrition changes available to you for combating dry eye disease.
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 Omega 3 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 A: Plays an essential role in maintaining vision and keeping the immune system and reproductive system healthy. You can increase vitamin A in your diet with dark leafy greens, lettuce, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and cantaloupe.
Vitamin B6: An important vitamin for healthy brain development, as well as keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy. You can add more vitamin B6 to your diet by with garlic, pistachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seems, fish (tuna, salmon and cod)
Vitamin C: An L-ascorbic acid and powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps boost your immune system, supports tissue grown and wound healing. A key ingredient in Age-Related Macular Degeneration supplements. You can find vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables like guava, kiwi, papaya, citrus fruits, berries, dark leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower.
Vitamin E: An important vitamin to maintain good vision, reproduction as well as skin, blood, and the brain. You can find more vitamin E in almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pickled olives plus dried herbs like paprika and chili powder.
Magnesium: A mineral that is essential for bone structure, nerve function and cardiac health. Magnesium is often taken as a supplement but may also be found in whole grains, beans, lentils, bananas, avocados, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, and halibut.
Zinc: This mineral boosts immune response and healing, reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of many age-related conditions. Zinc is often taken as a supplement but can be found in oyster, crab, lamb, dark chocolate and roasted pumpkin seeds
There are two essential fatty acids (EFA) that the body cannot produce on its own: 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). 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!
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).