Dry eye syndrome or Dry Eye Disease (DED) is a chronic condition of insufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. A person suffering from this condition can experience subtle but constant eye irritation to significant inflammation of the eye. Severe cases can lead to the scarring of the front surface of the eye. Alternative medical terms of dry eyes include:
- Keratitis sicca
This is generally the dryness and inflammation of the cornea.
- Dysfunctional tear syndrome
This condition emphasizes the inadequateness of tears that helps in keeping the eyes hydrated.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
This is the condition in which the dryness affects both the cornea and the conjunctiva.
A recent research showed the prevalence of dry eyes ranging from 5 percent to as high as around 50 percent in different populations across the world.
Underlying health conditions such as retinopathy, diabetic, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and can also cause dryness in eyes. So, apart from treating the condition using medicines, proper supplementation of nutrients is also imperative. Vitamins play a key role in providing proper nutrition to improve eye health. Here is a list of vitamins that help maintain eye health.
- Vitamin A
This vitamin plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea- the covering outside the eye. Vitamin A has also replenished rhodopsin, a protein in the eyes allowing you to see in low light conditions. Deficiency in vitamin A can cause Xerophthalmia, which is a progressive eye disease resulting in night blindness. The same deficiency can cause dry eyes. Vitamin-A-rich foods include sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, pumpkins, and bell peppers.
Also known as vitamin B, it is associated with eye health. Vitamin B contains an antioxidant, riboflavin that can reduce oxidative stress in the body, including eyes, as it helps in hydrating the eyes. Foods rich in riboflavin include fortified cereals, milk, oats, yogurt, and beef.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine helps in maintaining proper cell function by converting food into energy. It also helps in reducing the risk of cataracts. Moreover, vitamin B1 has been proposed as a potential treatment for various conditions that cause dry eyes. Some food sources that are rich in thiamine include whole grains, meat, breakfast cereals, fish, bread, and pasta.
The key function of antioxidant-rich vitamin B3 or niacin helps in converting food into energy. Recent studies have also shown that vitamin B3 may help in preventing glaucoma, a condition in which the optic nerve of the eye is damaged. Some food sources rich in niacin are poultry, mushrooms, beef, fish, peanuts, and legumes.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin C is required to make a protein called collagen. It provides structure to the eye, especially the cornea and sclera. Other studies suggest that vitamin C can help lower the risk of developing cataracts, a condition causing the eye to become cloudy and impairing vision. Some vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers, tropical fruits, broccoli, and kale.
- Vitamin E
Dry eyes are usually associated with oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Vitamin E is an antioxidant-rich that helps to protect eye cells from damage by free radicals. Foods rich in vitamin E include seeds, nuts, and cooking oils, avocado, Salmon, and leafy green vegetables are also good sources.
Apart from including these vitamins in the daily diet, it is also important to steer clear from some foods that aggravate the condition of dry eyes. Here are some foods that should be avoided if a person is suffering from dry eyes:
- Refined sugars
These are found in so many artificial and processed foods such as cookies, cakes, pies, and even crackers. Refined sugars have all kinds of negative effects on your body, one of these is suffering from dry eyes. Hence it is recommended to eat fruits to curb sugar cravings. It is also recommended to read food labels to check the amount of some sugar in them; not only will it help to avoid dry eyes, but it also keeps other health problems at bay.
This is one of the most harmful substances that not only dries your eyes but dehydrates the entire system. Possibly, the best way to stay hydrated is to drink a glass of water before every drink of alcohol. And if a person is already suffering from underlying health conditions, it is recommended to steer clear from alcohol.
- Aerated drinks
Flavored waters or aerated drinks, high in artificial sweeteners are risky and cause dry eyes. It can be helpful to cut back on sugars, as this will result in an overall reduction in sugar cravings and keep the dry eye symptoms at bay.
Caffeine consumption is common in every household. Consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is good for health, too much of it can cause harm. Excessive caffeine, just like alcohol can dry out your system, thereby causing dry eye symptoms.
Consulting an eye specialist and a nutritionist is necessary before making any changes in the diet. This will make sure that a person is not suffering from any underlying health conditions. This will also help to avoid the worsening of symptoms.