March 25, 2009
A simple, inexpensive solution for dry eye
Dry eye is a very common problem for people over 50. In fact, the Archives of Ophthalmology says that in people aged 48 to 91 years, 13% will develop dry eye over five years. And for those with dry eyes, it can be quite a problem. The itching, irritation, and inflammation can cause significant damage to the eye tissue, especially with rubbing and scratching.
Unfortunately, too many doctors will hear this complaint and immediately diagnose rheumatologic disease and Sjogren syndrome. But there's usually a much simpler explanation — and treatment.
The usual cause of dry eye is our old nemesis inflammation. Just as inflammation can stop blood from flowing properly, it can close up tear ducts and keep tears from moistening the eye. As a result, artificial tears are the typical treatment. While they will temporarily moisten the eye, they do nothing to correct the underlying problem.
To do that, researchers have found that one of my favorite nutrients — the essential fatty acid alpha linoleic acid (ALA) — can work wonders. In their study, the researchers induced dry eyes in the rodents. Then they gave the mice some topical ALA. The results were impressive.
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This plant-based omega-3 oil reduced signs of dry eyes and inflammatory changes associated with the dryness. It significantly decreased these processes at the cellular and molecular levels. And it significantly decreased dry eyes.
That means that ALA, the "parent" omega-3 applied topically, not internally, doesn't provide just symptomatic relief. It actually addresses the underlying cause of dry eye — the inflammation. The authors concluded that this could be a "novel therapy" to treat the inflammation that occurs with dry eyes.
They're right. Thanks to this study, we now have a new and very effective way to treat dry eyes. You can find ALA in flax and hemp oil. I suggest you take these oils internally, to fight systemic inflammation. Another study has found oral flax oil to be effective in combating dry eyes after corneal surgery. My eye mentor, Ed Kondrot, MD of Phoenix, says he places high-quality oils directly in the eyes "all the time." The only problem is temporary blurred vision. Please be sure to use only organic and refrigerated flax oil, not linseed oil. If you try it, please let me know your experience. This is truly wonderful news for a most uncomfortable problem.
Yours for better health and medical freedom,
Ref: Rashid, S., Y. Jin, et al. "Topical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for treatment of dry eye," Arch Ophthalmol, 2008; 126(2): 219-25; Archives of Ophthalmology 2004 122: 369-373.