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
Bran (Wheat and Rice) Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Cod)
Garlic Sunflower Seeds
Liver Lean Pork Tenderloin
Ground Spices (e.g. chili powder, garlic powder, ground sage)
Oysters Toasted Wheat Germ
Veal Liver Roast Beef
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Dark Chocolate (70% or greater)
Dried Watermelon Seeds Lamb
Dark Leafy Greens Nut and Seeds
Fish (Halibut) Dark Chocolate
Dried Fruit Beans and Lentils
Whole Grains Avocados
Bananas Low-Fat Dairy (Yogurt)
Red/Green Hot Chili Peppers Guava
Strawberries Kiwi Fruit
Oranges and Tangerines Bell Peppers
Fresh Herbs Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts
Sunflower Seeds Paprika and Chili Powder
Almonds Chili Powder
Dried Herbs Dried Apricots
Pickled Olives Cooked Spinach
Cooked Taro Root Pine Nuts
Liver Sweet Potato
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables Carrots
Butternut Squash Lettuce
Dried Apricots Cantaloupe
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).