Eye dryness is one of the more common eye problems that people experience. Several things can cause dry eyes or dry eye syndrome, including age, living in a dry environment, allergies, and eye strain.
Treatment solutions and lifestyle changes can reduce the discomfort associated with dry eyes. Proper nutrition and a healthy diet can help support your vision. Let’s look at vitamins and the role they play in your eye health.
What Are Dry Eyes?
When there isn’t sufficient tear production or poor quality tears from an imbalance in the tear film, dry eyes can develop. Symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Watery eyes
- Discomfort with contact lenses
- Light sensitivity
There are many causes of dry eyes, and factors affecting the tear film include:
- Certain medication
- Hormone changes in women
- Long-term use of contact lenses
- Eye surgery
- Diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease
What Vitamins Are Good for Dry Eyes?
A healthy diet including vitamins and supplements can improve vision and eye health. It’s always best to consult your primary health care doctor or eye doctor before taking any vitamins to treat your dry eyes.
Tear film quality is crucial to maintaining moisture in the eye. An imbalance in water, mucin, or oil can cause tears to evaporate more quickly and not coat the eyes properly.
Vitamin A supports the cornea, or clear layer at the front of the eye, where a vitamin A deficiency can lead to corneal dryness. A study suggests that vitamin A improves the quality of tears in people with dry eyes.
Food high in vitamin A include:
- Sweet potato
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that benefits the blood vessels in the eye and helps prevent cataracts. It is also required to make collagen that provides structure to the eye.
Foods high in vitamin C include:
- Oranges or orange juice
- Grapefruit or grapefruit juice
- Green peppers
Vitamin E, like vitamin C, is an antioxidant that protects the eyes from damage from chemicals harmful to the eye called free radicals. Good sources of vitamin E include:
- Vegetable oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Wheat germ
- Sweet potatoes
Vitamin D deficiency can cause dry eye symptoms. A study found that patients with dry eye disease had significantly lower vitamin D levels.
In a study, Vitamin D supplements helped with immune function by reducing eye inflammation, promoting tear secretion, and improving tear quality.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with ocular pain and severe dry eye disease. Vitamin B12 can reduce the burning sensation symptoms in dry eyes by repairing the corneal nerve layer. Consult your eye doctor for dosage recommendations.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and tear evaporation by producing enough oil, thus relieving symptoms of dry eyes. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include fish:
Alternate sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nuts and seeds, soybeans, vegetable oil, and green, leafy vegetables.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and antioxidants found in the eye that protect it against blue light and help prevent age-related eye diseases. Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Collard greens
Zinc maintains the health of cell membranes, protein structures, and the retina. It also helps vitamin A travel from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eye.
Sources of zinc include:
- Red meat
- Nuts and seeds
- Fortified cereal
Vitamins and Eye Health
Are you one of the millions of people struggling with dry eyes? You’ll be relieved to know that it is treatable. Incorporating vitamin-rich foods and supplements in your diet supports eye health by helping with symptoms of dry eye disease.
The benefits of taking vitamins and supplements are many. However, excessive intake can lead to side effects and toxicity. That’s why it’s always advisable to speak to a healthcare professional or your eye doctor about the benefits and possible risks.
Book an appointment with Vision Care Center to discuss starting a vitamin regime and the best treatment route for dry eyes based on your particular eye care needs.