Ask Dr. David

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: What can I do about dry eyes?

A: Dry eyes are a common complaint. Contact lenses, hormone imbalances, wind, dust or dry weather can conspire to cause your eyes to itch and sting. It often becomes worse in the winter, along with sensitivity to bright light, such as car headlights. These may be symptoms, the body telling us, that we need more Vitamin A and the essential fatty acids. Good sources of Vitamin A include fish, apricots, eggs, orange vegetables such as pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash. Supplements such as Vitamin A&D and D. Salina Beta Carotene are helpful. For the essential fatty acids, we usually need Omega-3’s, commonly called the “good fats.” Flax seed oil in liquid or capsules, and Super Omega-3 capsules are great sources. Food sources of Omega-3’s include most fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines). For a wonderful website full of information on Omega-3’s, go to Omega-3info.com

Sometimes these complaints are helped by strengthening the eye muscles and surrounding tissue. While that could be an entire article on it’s own, the short version is that raw sunflower seeds, the above mentioned foods and supplements, along with our formulas Vision Support and Eye Tonic, can do wonders to improve overall eye health and function. Vitamin C (fruits, broccoli, red peppers) is necessary for eye health also, as a large amount of it is stored behind the eye. Vitamin C is depleted by smoking, chemicals and pollution. People with cataracts and glaucoma have low amounts of Vitamin C behind their eye. Keeping fluid intake at the proper level (see How much water should one drink?) may be a factor for some people.

An added benefit of supplementing the above nutrients is improved skin. Patients increasing these nutrients often report softer skin, less dry skin patches, less dry lips, improvement in their dry eyes and less sensitivity to bright light. Nature intended for us to increase our intake of these nutrients by making them available in the fall to build up our body reserves for winter. Finally, run a humidifier in your home, turn the heat down in the night-time, and keep house plants, which naturally humidify the air.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.