Dry Eyes

Article by Angela Haldane

Q. My eyes have been dry for several months. What can I do to fix this?

A. You are suffering a surface eye ailment characterised by excessive dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eyes. This may be the result of a lack of water in the tear ducts, and/or a deficiency in the production of sebum or mucin. Dry eyes may be a symptom of Sjögren Syndrome, which would need to be diagnosed by your doctor.

You could also be lacking in vitamin A, in which case a supplement may help: there is a practitioner product called Alanase which contains a high dose of vitamin A. Or try Oculoheel eyedrops, available from your registered naturopath or medical herbalist (visit www.nzamh.org.nz to find a practitioner in your area) or come in for an appointment at Natural Ange Ltd. Vitamin A may prevent the loss of goblet cells from the conjunctiva of the eyes, and can improve the function of the epithelial cells that line the conjunctiva.

Studies show that gamma-linolenic acid (1500 mg a day) from blackcurrant oil or evening primrose oil, combined with vitamins C and B6, can improve tear production. Combine this with a diet rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils, such as fish, flaxseed oil and ground linseed. Magnesium can also alleviate dry eyes; it plays a role in the formation of prostaglandin E7, a compound necessary for the production of tears. As for herbal medicine, demulcent herbs such as marshmallow, hoheria and eyebright are useful for many types of eye inflammation.