Dry eye is one of the most common, although not serious, eye conditions of middle aged people. It greatly interferes with the quality of life for approximately 14 percent of people over the of age 40. About 21 million people in the United States, it is realistically estimated that figure is probably more like 60 million, reported experiencing chronic dry eye symptoms. Out of those numbers, the condition is more prevalent in women because, it is believed, they experience more hormonal shifts. In both sexes, regardless, the condition usually worsens with age.
Here is a rather short and simplified version of why this eye condition begins to happen.
The surface of the eye needs tears to support the delicate living cells that covers the surface of the eye. Instead of using a blood supply or oxygen, the eye surface uses a thin, watery layer called 'tears'. This layer of water is so important, that the eyelids produce a layer of oil just to help protect tears from evaporating.
When the eye surface first starts to become dry, tears have lost water, and have become too salty. This causes symptoms such as:
1. burning and stinging
5. blurred vision
When the eyes become really dry, it has been described as feeling like there is dirt in the eye, or a sandy grit irritation.
Many who experience this type of uncomfortable eye condition, often times, opt to quickly treat it with an over-the-counter or prescription eye drop solution. Unfortunately, most eye drops will only provide temporary relief, at best.
The problem with artificial tears is, if the solution being used does not biologically match the substances naturally found in normal tears produced by the eye, eye drops will actually starve the surface of necessary electrolytes the eye surface needs. The result will be a lack of lubrication quality. Certainly, this is a no-win, or long-term, solution that will ever get to the real root of the problem.
When quality tear production ceases, it is also possible to notice a decrease in corneal sensation, thus affecting clear vision.
There are several risk factors that may potentially increase your odds of, eventually, suffering from dry eye. They are:
1. Long-term use of hard contact lenses
2. Having had Lasik eye surgery
3. Certain viral infections of the cornea
5. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
And finally, another area that is often not considered, at all, is prescription drug use.
Medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants and many others can cause dry eye symptoms. You might be wondering, how prescription drugs could be affecting normal tear production. Here is one educated professionals clinical experience, and observations, with prescription drugs.
In Dr. F. Batmanghelidj's brilliantly researched, medical breakthrough self-help book to the public titled, "Your Body's Many Cries For Water", page 162, states, "I would like to inform you that a vast majority of very frequently used medications are either directly or indirectly strong antihistamines. The strongest variety are used in the discipline of psychiatry and for patients with depression".
And, in his reference to severe dehydration problems common in the vast population of the world, on page 14, he says, "The regulating neurotransmitter systems (histamine and its subordinate agents) become increasingly active during the regulation of water requirements of the body. Their action should not be continuously blocked by the use of medications. Their purpose should be understood and satisfied by drinking more water".
And, there is more promising news on how you can reduce, or even possibly eliminate, this irritating eye condition with dietary relief interventions. Three separate dietary studies conducted, so far, have linked dry eye to a low omega-3 essential fatty acid intake. Eating more cold water, oily fish, or by supplementing with a high quality fish oil, can produce long-term relief rather quickly. Most eye doctors have no idea that most cases of dry eye problems can be cleared up, naturally, with simple dietary measures.
Dry eye syndrome should never be ignored. It could, eventually, turn into more than just an uncomfortable eye nuisance. After all, the cornea is responsible for two-thirds of our vision power. When it dries out, it is like trying to look at your world through a dirty windshield. This eye condition is also closely related to another common eye problem called 'age-related macular degeneration'. Both, of which, respond rather well to increased water, omega-3, and antioxidant (found in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables) consumption.
Eating more omega-3's, raw fruits and vegetables, and increasing your water intake, all three, are very doable strategies you can use to, realistically, attack this annoying eye condition.
It really can be that simple, and that easy!