Dry Eye Syndrome:

A Natural Approach to Treating and Preventing Dry Eye Syndrome

By Dr. Ben Kim

Over the years, I've noticed that a growing number of people are reporting "dry eyes" during my initial evaluations. The most common complaints are burning, stinging, and scratching sensations. People who wear contacts often report that their eyes feel unusually uncomfortable.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's highly advisable that you address the root causes of dry eyes, as chronic dry eyes can actually leave small abrasions on the surface of your eyes.

The most common cause of dry eyes is a lack of tears, which are needed for proper lubrication of your eyes, as well as to wash away foreign bodies and waste particles.

Other common causes of dry eyes include:

  • A dry living or working environment
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke - first or second-hand
  • Regular use of cold or allergy medications
  • A problem with your eyelids or eyes, such as a drooping eyelid (ptosis) or bulging eyes (exophthalmos)
  • Sjogren's syndrome, which comes with dry mucous membranes
  • A recent study out of Harvard reports that people who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can lower their chances of experiencing dry eyes by as much as 68 percent. Interestingly, people who eat a higher ratio of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids can actually double their risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

This is yet another facet of our health that can be improved by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and negatively affected by eating a diet that promotes a high omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio.

Healthy foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • walnuts
  • purslane
  • ground flax seeds
  • cod liver oil
  • cold-water fish that are typically low in mercury, such as wild salmon and sardines

Beyond addressing your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, here are some additional steps that you can take to help prevent and reverse dry eye syndrome:

  • Use a humidifier in the winter if you live in an area that requires indoor heating
  • Whenever possible, avoid air conditioning, second-hand smoke, and direct wind
  • Strive to avoid regular use of contact lenses
  • Completely close and rest your eyes at regular intervals

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