01. 08. 2023
Nutrition & Dry Eyes: An Anti-inflammatory Diet
Dry Eye Disease affects approximately 20-30% of Canadians and is no doubt one of the most common ocular complaints we see as Optometrists. These include patients who suffer from watery, gritty, itchy and irritated eyes. In severe cases, Dry Eye Disease can be debilitating and can greatly impact the overall quality of life for patients. Fortunately, there are many treatment options to manage and treat these symptoms of dry eyes, including the use of eye drops, warm compresses, intense pulse light, radiofrequency, thermal pulsation and more.
However, what most people may not realize is that there is often an inflammatory component to dry eyes and our diet plays an important role in managing this disease. Healthy eating supports all our body’s systems and our eyes are no exception.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in treating dry eyes due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They also increase the quality of oil secreted from our meibomian glands and prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.
Remember the “S.M.A.S.H” acronym: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herring. These types of fish are the safest to eat and they have high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and are low in mercury.
Other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Vegetable oil
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds such as flax, chia, hemp, and walnuts
If it is difficult for you to obtain omega-3s through your diet, a supplement is encouraged. However, not all omega-3s are the same, so make sure to look for these 3 keys factors when choosing your omega-3 supplement:
- Make sure it is a re-esterified triglyceride based Omega-3 – not only is this better tolerated with fewer GI side effects, it is also better absorbed.
- Has a EPA:DHA ratio of 3:1
- A daily serving of at least 2000mg per day
Whole30 Diet for Dry Eyes
The Whole30 program emphasizes eating lots of whole foods and eliminating processed foods, in an attempt to reduce systemic inflammation. It is designed to help you identify foods that negatively impact your health and quality of life. The Whole30 diet is laid out in two phases: 30 days of elimination, and 10 days of reintroduction. For the first 30 days, you can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats. However, you must avoid junk food, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and processed food additives. Then for 10 days, you can slowly reintroduce these food groups back to evaluate how they make your eyes feel and your overall well-being.
|Foods you can eat on Whole30||Avoid:|
|Unprocessed meat, eggs and poultry||❌ Added Sugar|
|Fish and seafood||❌ Alcohol|
|Fruits||❌ Grains / Pasta|
|Nuts & Seeds||❌ Dairy|
|Some fats: olive, avocado, coconut oil, ghee||❌ Processed Additives|
|Black coffee||❌ Junk Food|
In addition to reducing foods that trigger inflammation which can help with your dry eyes, the Whole30 diet may help you potentially improve other health conditions, such as resolve digestive problems, increase energy levels, improve your sleep and even give you clearer skin.
Whether you are a dry eye sufferer or simply looking to improve your diet and overall health, start 2023 off with a more balanced and long-term approach that focuses on choosing whole foods and an “anti-inflammatory” diet – while minimizing less healthy choices.
03. 04. 2021