With the prevalent use of computers, smartphones, and tablets, it's not surprising that over 26 million people in America suffer from dry eyes. Chronic dry eye is caused by a variety of things, such as staring at the television for long periods of time or being in a room with low humidity. Sometimes, though, chronic dry eyes are a sign you may be missing some valuable nutrients. Here are three to add to your diet to see whether they help alleviate your condition.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The human body requires fat to power some essential processes. While it can make fat, the body requires raw materials to work with, some of which it can get only from food. One type of fat it needs on a regular basis is omega-3 fatty acids.
These essential fatty acids play a big role in how cell receptors function in cell membranes throughout the entire body. They are also important for the proper function of cells that regulate genetic expression. In the case of chronic dry eyes, omega-3 fatty acids help produce water and oil in the tear film that keeps the eyes moisturized.
A double-blind study conducted on the efficacy of using omega-3 fatty acids to treat chronic dry eye ended with 65 percent of the patients experiencing improvement in symptoms after taking EPA and DHA supplements for three months.
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and halibut. However, you can also get this essential oil from flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts as well as oral supplements.
Potassium is another nutrient your body needs to function properly. This nutrient is actually an electrolyte that keeps your nerves functioning and helps your muscles, including your heart, contract. This is why one of the most common symptoms of potassium deficiency is muscle weakness and cramps, gastric distress, and arrhythmic heart beats.
Like omega-3 fatty acids, potassium is needed for the normal function of the tear film in the eyes since it is made up of several types of electrolytes. When your body is low on potassium, the tear film may break up faster. Since the film keeps the eyes moisturized between blinks, the faster the film dissipates, the longer your bare eyes are exposed to the surrounding air, leading to dryness.
The recommended amount of potassium you should consume each day is 4,700 milligrams. You may need more or less depending on your age and whether you're nursing a child. This electrolyte can be obtained from a number of foods, including bananas, sweet potatoes, raisins, beans, and tomatoes.
A third issue that contributes to chronic dry eye is oxidative stress. The environment is full of oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons that react negatively to other molecules they come into contact with. These oxygen molecules are called free radicals, and they are very harmful to the body. These free radicals are associated with a variety of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, some cancers, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Eyes are not immune to the damage caused by free radicals, and following the standard American diet of fast food and sugar doesn't help.
One thing that can protect your eyes and the rest of your body from these free radicals are antioxidants. These nutrients help neutralize the effect oxidative stress has on the body. You can get them from fruits and vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens, cherries, blueberries, and acai berries. Many of these foods also have additional nutrients, such as vitamin A and lutein, that contribute to eye health and can help minimize chronic dryness.
For more information about nutrients that may alleviate chronic dry eye or other treatment options, contact an eye doctor, such as one at Absolute Vision Care.