Are your eyes dry and irritated?

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Having dry, uncomfortable eyes is common and can become stressful. It can make life difficult and frustrating, particularly for those who look at a computer screen for most of their day. If you wear contact lenses it’s even worse.

Dry eyes is particularly common in postmenopausal women. The condition can be due to excess inflammation in the eyes affecting the tear ducts, cornea and the mucous membranes inside the eyelids. It can also be due to inadequate eye secretions due to blocked eyelid glands or damaged tear ducts.

The autoimmune condition called Sjogren’s Syndrome may be an underlying cause for some people, if the condition is severe. In general, I’ve noticed that people with allergic tendencies are more prone to suffering with irritated eyes, and they may not be able to tolerate contact lenses. Female patients of mine with an autoimmune disease and who are postmenopausal are also more likely to suffer with dry eyes. Helping their immune system and reducing the inflammation in their body can alleviate symptoms. There is detailed information on how to do that in the book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation. The 15 Day Cleanse is a program designed to improve liver, gut and immune health, helping to reduce inflammation.

Tips for healthier eyes

Here are some tips to make your eyes healthier and more comfortable:

  • Apply a small amount of pure coconut oil to the eyes on retiring at night, rub the oil into the eyelashes as well. Make sure you wash your hands beforehand and keep the coconut oil clean by taking a small amount out of the jar with a clean spoon. Coconut oil has some antimicrobial properties, and research has shown it helps to reduce inflammation after UVB exposure.
  • For some people, sugar, alcohol, dairy products and gluten can raise inflammation in their body. Thus eliminating those foods and basing the diet on seafood, poultry, meat, eggs and vegetables may offer symptom relief.
  • The omega 3 essential fatty acids in fish have anti-inflammatory effects and lubricating properties. Try to increase omega 3 fats in your diet, such as in oily fish, free-range eggs and grass-fed and finished meat.
  • Make a juice that is high in beta carotene. Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. Examples of suitable vegetables include carrots, beets, citrus fruits and spinach. There are juice recipes in the book Raw Juices Can Save Your Life. Not everyone converts beta carotene into vitamin A properly. That’s why it’s beneficial to also eat foods rich in vitamin A. These include egg yolks, oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and herrings, as well as liver.
  • Synthetic tears are available and can be administered with an eyedropper.

Some people with dry eyes have low testosterone levels so it is worthwhile to check these levels with a blood test. Testosterone can be administered in a cream or gel applied to the skin once daily. Testosterone increases oily secretions in the skin and mucous membranes and some people with dry eyes find it helps a lot. Testosterone requires a doctor’s prescription. Contact our clinic if you would like more information.

If you experience any new eye symptoms, you should always see an eye specialist for a full eye check-up. A doctor can unblock any problematic glands in the eyelids if the suggestions above have not helped sufficiently.

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