Eye Matters
May 15, 2009
Dry eyes

Hello my dear readers, I recently got an e-mail from a patient of mine, with a special question:

The question went like this: “Doctor, my eyes are always dry. I have used a lot of over the counter medications, but they don’t seem to work very well. Could you recommend a natural remedy to prevent this?”##M;[more]##

Thanks for sending me this great question. As you know, before we prescribe medication we must first determine the ultimate cause of the dry eyes.

Dry eyes can be caused by a lack of production of tears in the eyes or a problem with one’s lacrimal (Tear production and drainage) system. Other factors such as extreme dry weather, working in air conditioned environments, staring intensively at computer or TV screens without blinking may contribute to or exacerbate the condition. People over the age of 40, especially menopausal women, have a tendency to develop dry eyes. The side effects of certain medications (e.g. Antihistamines, birth control pills) may cause dry eyes, and the rare autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s syndrome can also cause chronic dry eye.

So what natural methods are available for the prevention of dry eyes? Fortunately, there are several. First of all, drinking plenty of water helps to keep our eye’s mucous membranes moist. Secondly, although we live in a humid country, people who use air conditioning should consider purchasing a humidifier to prevent dryness. Do not forget to change the water in the humidifier, as this will prevent the development of mold. Thirdly, blinking often helps to spread the tears evenly on our eyes, especially when we’re looking at computer or TV screens, driving or reading. Fourthly, one should avoid rubbing one’s eyes, as this may worsen the dryness.

Moreover, studies have shown that eating foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and fish oils (especially codfish and salmon), nuts and flaxseed have a positive effect in the production of tears.

When looking for over the counter eye drops, look for those marked homeopathic as they are natural remedies. Homeopathic eye drops stimulate the eyes’ natural ability to fight dryness.

Avoid those that are meant to relieve red or itchy eyes unless they are homeopathic, because they can worsen the dryness and even cause one to become dependent on them.

If the symptoms still persist, talk to your doctor about special prescriptions or the use of special tear duct plugs, as these may help increase natural tear production.

To lots of good tears

Have a great weekend.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us. Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com Tel: 784 456-1210