You may have felt it before: dry eye syndrome. Like small pieces of sandpaper taped to the inside of your eyelids, dry eye syndrome can make it nearly impossible just to make it through a day sane. Focusing through the irritation, burning, and stinging of dry eyes can affect your productivity, your ability to focus, and your overall mood. So what can you do to prevent this frustrating condition, which more than 26 million Americans report dealing with routinely?
- Drink some water. The most important nutritional way to prevent dry eye syndrome is pretty obvious: drink plenty of water. However, in a nation where an average citizen drinks more soda than water, doctors believe up to 75% of the population may drink too little water each day. It’s a point that bears repeating often: 8-10 glasses of water each day are required for your body to function properly. Just carry a water bottle with you that you can refill throughout your day. It’s so easy!
- Eat foods high in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables (particularly leafy greens) are each abundant suppliers of antioxidants, which can counteract the oxidative breakdown caused by everything from smoking to lack of sleep to simply getting older. Mmm, broccoli, kale, and spinach.
- Eat fish, fish, and more fish. The fattier the fish, the better; tuna and salmon are both ideal. The omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in fish like these contribute to healthy, well-lubricated eyes, as the body requires them to appropriately build and maintain the membranes that protect cells like the ones in your eyes.
- Take a daily dose of fish oil, either in capsule form or as a liquid. If you don’t like fish, a similar effect can be obtained by consuming flaxseed oil, which also contains an omega-3 fatty acid. This acid, called ALA, can be broken down by the body to create EPA and DHA (see above). You should note that, of the two, fish oil is better, as it is already in the form preferred by the body and requires no conversion.
- Eat a banana or two. Individuals with dry eyes have been found to have low levels of potassium, which is easily acquired from eating things like fresh bananas or cantaloupe.The potassium in these fruits is an essential component of the three-layer film of tears that lubricates and protects healthy eyes.
Now that you know what it takes enjoy your healthy, well-lubricated eyes! (And, if you’re a coffee-lover like me, you’re in luck: a recent study found that individuals without dry eyes reported higher-than-average caffeine consumption!) Now, who wants to grab a coffee?
Dr. Jenna Zigler