What Are Good Vitamins For Dry Eyes?
Dry eye is a condition which occurs when the lacrimal glands in your eyes do not produce enough tears for providing adequate lubrication to your eyes.
A human eye has a uniform layer of tears on the surface to keep it moist, healthy, well-lubricated and comfortable.
Lack of sufficient moisture and lubrication can cause a range of consequences from constant eye irritation to significant inflammation and even scarring on the eye surface.
Research has shown that there is a significant rise in the number of dry eye-related conditions every year.
Needless to say, dry eyes is a significantly growing health problem worldwide. About 16.4 million adults in the US are diagnosed with DED (Dry eye disease), and 6 million more experience dry eye symptoms without a formal diagnosis.
Research also points out to the fact that people who are 50 years and older experience this condition more often. Approximately 3 million American women and 1.68 million men aged 50 years and older suffer from this disease.
The higher number of female sufferers could be due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. Women who take birth control pills, are pregnant or in menopause are more prone to dry eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes
- Heavy eyes
- Fatigued eyes
- Sore eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Aching sensations
- Burning sensation
- Dryness sensation
- Red eyes
- Blurred vision
In most of the cases, effective treatments are available to battle the disease. Additionally, minor behavioural modifications (taking periodic breaks while using a computer, eye exercises, etc.) and routine use of artificial tears can help a lot to improve dry eye symptoms.
In some other cases, your ophthalmologist might recommend eye medications to help the eye apparatus to secrete more tears.
Can a vitamin deficiency cause dry eyes?
In a recent study published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, it has been asserted that dry eyes are often associated with Vitamin D deficiency.
However, more extensive research is required to prove the link between vitamin deficiency and dry eyes.
Additionally, it is important to add here that several observational studies have shown the effectiveness of vitamin supplements to treat conditions such as dry eyes.
How to treat your dry eyes naturally?
A proper diagnosis is essential to determine the underlying cause of your dry eye condition.
However, even before you get a detailed test and analysis done for your symptoms, using some of the simpler methods given below will help you to soothe your dry eye condition.
1. Wash your eyes more frequently
When you wash your face, give special attention to your eyes and eyelashes. Baby soaps or shampoos are ideal for cleaning the upper sensitive parts of the eyelid. Ensure that no foam gets into your eyes.
If you are someone who regularly uses makeup, give special attention to the area where the makeup could creep into the tear film.
Once you are done, thoroughly clean the area with a dry and soft towel.
2. Give adequate rest to your eyes
The light reflected from the computer, smartphones, tablets and other devices is a contributing factor to dry eyes. Several studies have shown that while working on the computer, the user tends to reduce their blink rate which can contribute to DED.
Another research says that inefficient blinking can hamper the layers of fluid which are required to retain the wetness and lubricate the eye.
3. Blink more
Studies were done by the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science to prove the effectiveness of deliberate and forceful blinking to promote eye health.
They have come up with pieces of crucial evidence to prove the effectiveness of forceful blinking in opening up the tear glands to promote eye health.
4. Hydrate more
For maintaining proper eye health, it is necessary to drink 8-10 glasses of water regularly.
With adequate hydration, glands can produce more tears which will, in turn, lubricate and help to clear off any debris that may get into the eyes.
5. Supplement your diet with vitamins
By adding essential vitamins to your diet, you could avoid any chances of getting eye diseases. Vitamins such as A, B- Complex, D, E, and K not only help to heal the eye tissue but also to maintain its proper functionality.
6. Get adequate sleep
Studies done on a group of 20 healthy male adults have indicated that sleep deprivation significantly reduced the secretion of tear glands which can trigger the development of ocular surface diseases such as dry eyes.
Vitamins that help in treating dry eyes
Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in maintaining the overall health of a human body. Your eyes are no exception.
Following are some essential vitamins that can help prevent (and cure) dry eye conditions:
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency is common in emerging countries whereby malnutrition is an issue.
This Vitamin is essential for the formation of Rhodopsin, which is a photoreceptor pigment in the retina. It is also necessary for lysosome stability, glycoprotein synthesis and maintaining healthy epithelial tissues.
In a study conducted on 150 patients, researchers used Vitamin A eye drops instead of prescription medication. The results revealed that Vitamin A drops are equally capable like prescription medications to treat dry eye symptoms.
2. Vitamin D
This Vitamin plays a powerful role in protecting the eyes against dryness by improving several factors which lead to the coating of tears on the surface of the eyes.
Vitamin D is highly helpful in removing inflammation on the surface of the eye.
Some research pieces have shown shreds of evidence that could link Vitamin D deficiency with the symptom of dry eyes.
Vitamin D supplements, along with fish oil, can effectively help to manage dry eyes. However, more extensive research is required for stronger evidence.
3. Vitamin E
This is a potent antioxidant which helps to protect your cells, especially your eye cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Several eye conditions are believed to be associated with oxidative stress, which is caused due to imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
A diet that includes adequate levels of Vitamin E is recommended by eye doctors to maintain proper eye health. Some Vitamin E rich foods include salmon, avocado, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
4. Vitamin C
Just like Vitamin E, this Vitamin is a potent antioxidant that protects your eyes from free radical damage.
Vitamin C helps to produce collagen, a protein which provides structure to the eye.
For people who are suffering from conditions such as macular disorders or dry eyes, taking regular doses of Vitamin C along with AREDS supplements will help to reduce the progression of the disease up to 24%.
In a study conducted on 50,828 female nurses who were 45 to 67 years old, it was concluded that Vitamin C supplementation might decrease the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts and dryness.
5. Vitamins B6, B9 and B12
Regular intake of food rich in Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 helps to improve any dry eye-related symptoms.
This combination Vitamin can help to lower the levels of homocysteine, a protein in your body that may be associated with eye inflammation.
A clinical study done on women has indicated that consuming 1.000 mcg of Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 helped to reduce the risk of eye disorder up to 34%.
Other supplements for dry eyes
In addition to the aforementioned vitamins, following supplements are considered excellent when it comes to preventing dry eye conditions.
1. Omega‐3 and omega‐6 fatty acids
Omega‐3 and omega‐6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. The retinal cell membranes have a high concentration of DNA, a particular type of Omega -3 fatty acids.
In a randomized controlled trial involving more than 4314 participants, it was observed that a combination of Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements have a role in managing dry eyes.
In another study involving 264 patients with dry eye symptoms, the participants were given 500mg (325mg EPA and 175mg DHA, Omega-3 group) capsules two times a day for three months regularly.
The results showed that there was a significant improvement to 65% of the patients, proving that Omega-3 is effective in treating dry eye-related symptoms.
This is a vital mineral which helps in the absorption of Vitamin A to produce the melanin pigment. This pigment is responsible for protecting your eyes from infections.
Since your body cannot naturally synthesise Zinc, it is essential to consume food that are rich in it. Additionally, you could take supplements to ensure healthy levels of Zinc in your body.
Are there side effects of taking excessive vitamin doses?
Vitamins can be broadly classified into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Excess water-soluble Vitamins can be excreted through urine while the fat-soluble Vitamins accumulate in the body’s tissues.
Side effects of consuming excessive water-soluble Vitamins
- Vitamin C- diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal disturbances.
- Vitamin B3- impaired vision, and liver damage, abdominal pain and high blood pressure.
- Vitamin B6 - severe neurological symptoms, skin lesions, sensitivity to light, nausea, and heartburn.
- Vitamin B9- negatively impact the immune system, and masks a potentially severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
Side effects of consuming excessive fat-soluble Vitamins
- Vitamin A- dangerous symptoms such as appetite loss, nausea, intracranial pressure, coma and even death.
- Vitamin D- weight loss, appetite loss, organ dysfunctioning and irregular heartbeat.
- Vitamin E- hemorrhages, blood clotting and stroke.
Several studies have indicated the immense benefits of taking vitamin supplements to improve dry eye condition.
However, before planning to take any form of vitamin supplements, it is recommended for people with dry eyes to discuss with a certified doctor about the potential risks, benefits and suggested doses.
John G Lawrenson,Andrzej Grzybowski(21 Dec 2015) Controversies in the Use of Nutritional Supplements in Optalmology . Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26350529/ [Accessed 24 Jul 20]
Charles W. MoMonnies (1 June 2011)Blink Efficiency: A Neglected Area Of Ocular Surface Disease Management? Available at https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2187955 [Accessed 24 Jul 20]Young Bok Lee,Jae Woong Koh ,Joon Young Hyon ,Won Ryang Wee,Jin Joo Kim ,Young Joo JJShin (15 Jay 2014) Slee Jeprivation reduce tear secretion and impairs the tear fillm Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24833736/ [Accessed 24 Jul 20]