According to data from the National Health and Wellness Survey, more than six and a half percent of adults in the United States have been officially diagnosed with dry eye syndrome. It is the most prevalent eye problem in the country.
The good news is that if you are one of the many adults diagnosed, there are effective and convenient dry eye syndrome treatments available through optometrists near you. There’s also emerging research about alternative treatment methods to help decrease dry eye syndrome symptoms.
Be sure to consult your optometrist at Gilbert Eyecare in our Norfolk or Virginia Beach offices prior to beginning any vitamin supplement treatment.
So what is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a bit of a misleading title for the common eye problem. Although sufferers may often have truly dry eyes, the syndrome has to do with the makeup of the tears being produced. Our eyes produce tears that have particular components in order to lubricate, clean, and supply a variety of nutrients to the eye.
Those with dry eye syndrome can begin experiencing symptoms if the eye begins to produce lower quality tears, often due to an upregulation of inflammation on the eye’s surface. Poor quality tears tend to evaporate too quickly from the eye’s surface and do not transfer the necessary nutrients to the front of the eye.
What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
Poor quality tears can lead to symptoms such as pain, burning, itching, light sensitivity, blurry vision, redness and more.
One of the most common symptoms that optometrists are asked about is watering eyes, since it seems counterintuitive to having something called dry eye syndrome. Eyes will often begin excessively watering as a reflex to the poor quality tears being produced. Unfortunately, excessive watering works against the eye and actually increases dryness.
What is the best treatment for dry eye syndrome?
There are a number of available treatments for dry eye syndrome – you should discuss your individual treatment plan with a medical professional.
One available treatment is the use of artificial tears to supplement the poor quality tears that are being produced. These artificial tears help to lubricate the eye and relieve symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome.
Another recommended treatment is the use of warm compresses. Often oil becomes clogged in the glands surrounding the eye which impacts the secretion of tears and tear film. Warm compresses can release the oil blockage and allow for proper secretion.
Additional treatments may be integrated into your plan based on recommendations from your optometrists, some include prescription eye drops, eyelid scrubs, oral medications, and more.
Can vitamins help prevent dry eye syndrome symptoms?
Research on vitamins and supplements impacting the symptoms of dry eye syndrome is evolving and continuing to expand. The nutrients needed for eye health may already be prevalent in your diet, so you should always discuss the addition of vitamins and supplements with your doctor before beginning to take them.
That said, there are a variety of vitamins that are being explored in relation to dry eye syndrome.
If you’ve ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes, you’re on the right track. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient to eye health and can be found in carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and other orange or yellow fruits and vegetables. It has been found that vitamin A can help prevent dry eye and the vitamin is often included in prescription eye drops.
It’s also been found that vitamin B12 supplements, in addition to artificial tears, can help improve symptoms of dry eyes. B12 assists in repairing and preserving the corneal nerve layer which impacts the burning sensation often experienced with dry eye.
Vitamin D is another important eye nutrient that can be taken as a supplement. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with both poor tear quality and tears film dysfunction. Supplemental vitamin D may reduce inflammation in the eye and improve the eye’s ability to lubricate itself.
Finally, Omega-3 fats have been found to reduce inflammation in the eye, something that can help decrease dry eye symptoms such as irritation and pain. Omega 3s reduce the body’s overall inflammatory response – applying this to the eye and eyelids means that enough oil can be secreted from the glands found in our eyelids which then impacts how quickly tears evaporate.
If you are suffering from dry eye syndrome, be sure to consult with your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects of beginning a vitamin supplement.
Get in touch with either of the Norfolk or Virginia Beach optometrist teams at Gilbert Eye Care by calling 757-425-0200 / 757-622-0200 to start the discussion of your individual treatment plan. Click here to book an online appointment.