First of all, what is dry eye? It is a condition that causes a person to not produce enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary to maintain the front surface of the eye called the cornea. The cornea is made up of hundreds of tiny nerve endings that must be covered with our tears. Every time we blink we produce tears that spread across the surface of the cornea. If we don’t get enough lubrication and those tiny nerve endings are exposed we begin to see symptoms.
These symptoms include pain, a gritty sandy or foreign body feeling, it can also cause blurred vision. If this becomes a chronic issue it can be very difficult to reverse. The tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelid and a malfunction in any of these glands can lead to chronic dry eye.
So what are some of the causes of dry eye?
The first, as mentioned above is the frequent use of computers and other electronic devices. We tend to blink less frequently and less fully when we are using these devices and this leads to increased tear evaporation. Most people tend to only blink 3-4 times per minute when using a computer versus the normal 14-15 times per minute. When we stop blinking we aren’t producing tears from the glands that push the tears onto the cornea which protects the cornea. This can lead to a lot more eye strain at the computer.
To help with this you can position the computer below eye level which helps decrease tear evaporation because more of the eye is covered by the eyelid when using the computer. Since most people can’t avoid computer use at their jobs I recommend taking frequent breaks where you are looking away from the screen and focusing on something in the distance out a window or across the room. Also, make a conscious effort to blink more often.
Another reason why we develop dry eye has to do with endocrine changes and one of those changes can be menopause in women who are at a greater risk of dry eye than men at the same age range. Although some men with prostate issues and other age-related endocrine changes can put men at risk as well.
The environment can make a big difference as well, being inside a lot with an air conditioner, fans running, or the heater on in the winter can dry the air which leads to quicker evaporation of the tears.
Frequent flying can cause dry eye as well because the cabin of the airplane can be very dry.
Also certain systemic diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid issues, and a lot of other autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome. Diabetes or any other insulin-related issue where you are not metabolizing your carbohydrates very well can lead to issues.
People taking medications such as antidepressants, certain blood pressure meds, antihistamines, and birth control pills can also suffer from dry eye.
LASIK or other corneal refractive surgery and cataract surgery can lead to chronic dry eye after surgery.
Stress, whether it is visual stress or overall stress dries the mucous membranes out including the eyes.
Adrenal burnout where people are spending too much time in a stressed state can put our adrenal system out of balance where we produce too much cortisol that leading to overall systemic inflammation. Being light sensitive and having dry eye syndrome can be an important thing to notice when you may suspect having adrenal burnout.
So as you can see there are many types of dry eye and getting to the root cause of dry eye is much more beneficial than treating it with eye drops.
Although eye drops can be helpful it is not always a long-term fix. The goal of treating dry eyes is to reduce inflammation in the eye and cause the eye to produce tears more naturally.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with dry eye as well so make sure you are getting enough D3 from the sun or in supplement form.
Coconut oil, almond, flaxseed, cashews, turmeric root, ginger root smoothies. Tumeric is great for many inflammatory conditions including dry eye. Other good foods that help with dry eye are asparagus which is rich in folic acid and glutathione. Avocados are great for providing fatty acids and reducing inflammation. The root vegetables such as beets can lower blood pressure and support your immune system and are great for dry eye and are also good for the macula which helps you see clearly. The berry family such as blueberries and raspberries goji berries. Limes, and pumpkin seeds.
So as mentioned above, if you can get to the root of the systemic issue you can treat this much easier by reducing the causative factors. Any imbalance in the eye can be a mirror for an imbalance going on in the body. If you are suffering from dry eye really explore not only the eye-related causes but take a look at the systemic and metabolic reasons why your system is drying out generally. So getting more healthy fats and detoxifying the body makes a big difference.
The last thing you want to do is use Visine.