I have chronic dry eyes.
Q. Dear Terry, “I have chronic dry eyes. The winter weather seems to make it even worse. I have tried everything out there – nothing seems to help. Hoping you might have a suggestion?” — Suzanne G., Potomac Falls, VA
A. Dear Suzanne, Your eyes depend on constant moisture and lubrication to maintain vision and comfort. Nothing is more uncomfortable than having red, itchy, irritated eyes.
Dry eye syndrome (DES), which affects about 3.2 million women and 1.7 million men over the age of 50, refers to a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. For women, DES parallels menopause and other typical conditions of aging. For men, it corresponds not just with age, but hypertension, antidepressant use, and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
Aside from computer use, dry eyes have many other causes as well: driving, working outside, contact lens wear, common over-the-counter drugs (like antihistamines), dust, wind, and exposure to air pollutants. In serious cases, an autoimmune disease like Sjögren’s Syndrome may be the root cause.
I am glad to say I do have some recommendations. However, I would encourage you to talk with your doctor and see what he or she thinks about the following protocol.
For eye dryness, I recommend trying Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) oil. The fruit of the sea buckthorn, a hardy plant native to Europe and Asia, has been called a “nutrient bomb” because it is so rich in flavonoids, vitamins, and other beneficial compounds. The seeds contain exceptionally high omega fatty acids, including the rare Omega-7 fatty acid (palmitoleic acid). There are excellent studies demonstrating the ability of sea buckthorn oil, when taken internally in softgel capsules, to reduce dryness of the eyes. There are also clinical studies using sea buckthorn oil for Sjögren’s syndrome, which is a difficult autoimmune disease that causes excessive mucous membrane (especially mouth and eye) dryness. I would suggest taking 500-2,000 mg daily. When looking for a sea buckthorn product, make sure it contains BOTH the seed oil and pulp. While both extracts are healthy, only the pulp contains omega-7. Believe it or not, there are sea buckthorn products on the market that contain absolutely no omega-7 fatty acids! So this is definitely a case of buyer beware.
You may also want to consider adding curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to further support your vision, as well as enhance your overall health.
Terry . . . Naturally