More people are dealing with irritating eye issues, such as dry eye. Lifestyle modifications and appropriate supplementation can help clarif-eye.
Of all the five senses, sight is the one that most people are truly fearful of losing. Sight is so … visceral. When we see something we like or love or are attracted to, our heart rates soar, we light up. Conversely, a horrible or fearsome thing makes us instantly recoil. The emotional connection with sight, the fear of darkness that loss of sight imposes, is the motivator for many people to try to remain healthy.
Age-related eye conditions—cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration—all dwindle the ability to see clearly and in some cases, can cause legal blindness. And as you are aware, if your patient/client mentions the black spot (macular degeneration) or the cloud (cataract), a referral to your favorite ophthalmologist is in order.
Kathy McIntee of Patient One Formulas, New York, agrees. “Traditionally, when we think of eye health, we focus on the elderly population. However, today’s typical lifestyle makes eye issues a growing concern for the very young through Baby Boomers and beyond,” she said.
McIntee pointed to the increased exposure to blue-light-emanating devices as contributing to eye and vision problems. “We live in a digital age where our eyes are constantly being bombarded with BLUE light exposure. As you read on your computer, smart phone, or tablet, think of the endless hours spent staring at digital screens,” she emphasized.
According to McIntee, adults spend on average 9.5 hours in front of media screens. Children, ages 8 to 10, spend about 5.5 hours each day and 28 percent of children use a mobile device every day, ranging from 9 percent of those under 2, to 37 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds.
Practitioners like you are likely hearing more about eyestrain and symptoms of dry eye. Although they likely do not make appointments specifically for this issue, they will tag it onto their checkup or for something else, as a “by the way…”
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, best-selling author, confirmed that the most common eye complaint “Is having dry eyes with secondary eye irritation. This affects tens of millions of people, and they get little help from their standard physician.”
He related that dry eye is becoming very common associated with both nutritional deficiencies as well as the increasing number of cases of immune and autoimmune disorders in general. Additionally, “people think of Sjogren’s Syndrome (an immune disorder characterized by dry eyes and a dry mouth) as the main cause of dry eyes. But the vast majority of people with this do not have Sjogren’s,” he stated.
Dry eye often also occurs in menopausal women. It is a common condition characterized by the impeded ability for tears to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes with every blink. If patients/clients mention that their eyes have a burning, stinging or scratchy sensation, along with light sensitivity, eye fatigue, some blurred vision, they may have this condition. Untreated, said sources, dry eye can damage eye surfaces, cause inflammation in the eye, abrasions of the corneal surface, and an increased risk of eye infections, such as the dreaded pinkeye (conjunctivitis).
Patients/clients that may have diabetes, lupus and other autoimmune disorders, are also more susceptible to dry eye, as can medications such as decongestants, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and some birth control, some antidepressants, anti-hypertensive drugs and antihistamines.
Oxidative damage accumulating through aging can have vision-function-suppressing effects. According to Luz Ossa of WeLife Naturals (Idaho), long-term exposure to insults, such as UV (ultraviolet) light, visible light and environmental toxins, can contribute to oxidative damage in the eye, and aging eyes are at higher risk for oxidative stress.
Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, founder of California-based Proactive Health Labs noted that the most common eye issues are refractive errors. “Many of us have these issues including myself. Refractive errors include farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism,” she related.
Patients/clients, said Dr. Stephenson-Laws, should be encouraged to stop smoking if they do because smoking increases risk of cataract development. And believe it or not, many people continue to smoke; it is one of the most difficult habits to cut out. Ask about exercise and if it isn’t part of the patient’s routine encourage it, she asserted. “Exercise promotes eye health in general—especially helping to prevent AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and glaucoma.”
Diet (both foods and supplements), she added, should include daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins A, D and E and zinc. “Patients can ingest high amounts of these nutrients from plant-based foods such as grapefruit, pine nuts, spinach and zucchini. And don’t forget we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight and that herbs and spices, like basil and parsley, are very nutrient-rich as well,” she commented.
Dr. Teitelbaum recommended omega-7 support from sea buckthorn oil. “The brand is very important here as it needs to be harvested from the right source and parts of the plant,” he admonished. “I use ProHydra-7 from EuroMedica. The dose is two capsules twice a day. Give it two months to see the full effect. Studies have shown this to be dramatically effective after two months,” he noted. He also recommended the brand’s EurOmega 3 as only two pills replace 14 large fish oil capsules, plus 60 mg B complex and 200 mg of magnesium.
He also mentioned recommending the patient/client increase omega-3 EFA intake. According to www.allaboutvision.com, EPA and DHA, which help control inflammation, act this way to reduce inflammation of the tear glands and the surface of the eye. One study of 40,000 women showed that increases in omega-3 consumption resulted in a 30 percent reduction in the risk of dry eye symptoms for each 1,000 mg dose taken daily. Another placebo-controlled study of 478 computer users with dry eye complaints showed that 70 percent of those taking omega-3 EFAs had no dry eye symptoms after three months of supplementation, compared to 15 percent of the placebo group.
Supplements to Recommend
Ossa described WeLife Naturals’ HoloRam Vision as a “bio-regulator that provides the indispensable information for a healthy vision. It provides a synergistic combination of phytotherapeutics, micronutrients and antioxidants, essential for the preservation of the delicate functions of ocular structures, with emphasis on the activation of the microcirculation and the function of the photoreceptor cells of the retina. While promoting the perfusion and adequate oxygenation of the ocular tissues, it activates the mechanisms of protection of the vascular endothelium.”
The complex contains five groups of nutraceuticals: phyotherapeutics that support the retina with dried extracts of rose hip, bilberry, ginkgo, milk thistle and dandelion; vitamins beta carotene, E and B2; minerals magnesium malate, zinc gluconate and selenium; antioxidants quercetin and mangosteen dried extract; and micronutrients lutein, L-aspartic acid and citrus.
Bio Essences Herbal Essentials Eye Plus provides building blocks for eye tissue repair, and hastens excretion of metabolic waste to maintain healthy eyes, according to Amy Kajiya, vice president of sales. The active ingredients in this supplement are beta-carotene, lutein, vitamins C and E, cassia seed, and bilberry extract.
Kajiya noted that a recent study from Agharkar Research Institute asserted that lutein and bilberry explained may help protect against light-induced damage and rebuild damaged parts of the eye. “The National Eye Institute found that poor diet was the reason why people had a hard time maintaining optimal eye health,” she commented. It was then asserted that a diet high in vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene can help soothe eye fatigue, headache, blurred vision, dried eyes, light sensitivity and eye irritation. The cassia seed has a long history for treatments of various eye diseases and helps in the delivery of nutrients to the eye and removal of metabolic waste.”
Homeopathic remedies are a suitable recommendation for patients/clients with “burnout” eyes—meaning, working so hard, not sleeping enough, resulting in tired, dry eyes. Boiron USA’s Optique 1 is said by Christophe Merville, D Pharm, director of education and pharmacy development, to soothe and refresh red, dry, itchy, gritty, burning or tired eyes. “It relieves minor eye irritations due to fatigue (such as eyestrain from long hours at a computer) or airborne irritants (such as dust, ragweed and other pollens),” he said. The product does not contain vasoconstrictors or astringents, he added, so there is no risk of a rebound effect or worsening of a condition.
“Beyond the formula, the packaging is quite innovative,” he noted. As opposed to a container intended for multiple uses, Optique 1 comes as sterile individual doses. It’s hygienic applicator guards against contamination and eliminates the need for a preservative.
Patient One Formulas provides four formulas for eye health and vision support. Meso-Z Vision, which contains lutein and zeaxanthin isomers, filters high-energy BLUE light and promotes macular health and visual acuity, increases macular pigment optical density (MPOD), helps protect the macula, reduces sensitivity to glare, blocks and filters blue light, and provides protection for constant flat-screen viewing, according to McIntee. The company’s Dry Eye Care provides nutritional support for restoring normal tear production and protective film. It is said to create thick tears and prevents tears from evaporating, while soothing symptoms of irritated eyes. It contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, zinc, omega-3 EFAs and gamma linolenic acid.
OpticOne is a multi-nutrient complex that provides nutritional support for optic nerve health and optimal eyesight function. It supports proper flow of eye fluid, decreases intraocular pressure, helps maintain visual acuity, eases eye strain, helps block damaging free radicals and supports vascular function. The comprehensive formula contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and herbs.
Finally, Patient One Formulas’ VisiOmega AREDS2+ is formulated to support both macular and overall eye health. “It is a comprehensive, research-based blend of synergistic nutrients, promotes sharp visual performance and provides night vision, contrast and glare support, and maintains eye hydration,” McIntee said.
These supplements can help your customers deal with gritty dry eyes. After all, there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
Dry Eye Causes Readus Interruptus
There’s another reason to take complaints about dry eye seriously—a new study shows that it slows reading rate, which, especially for those whose jobs contain regular heavy reading, can be disruptive and result in lowered productivity.
In a study of 186 adults, published online Nov. 15, in Optometry and Vision Science, dry eye specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland say the condition can slow a person’s reading speed by as much as 10 percent and can make it difficult to read for more than an average of 30 minutes.
According to lead investigator Esen Akpek, MD, Bendann Family Professor of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, dry eye affects millions of American adults mostly those age 50 and older. It causes ocular discomfort and visual problems. “Many of my patients have perfect vision on standard eye tests but complain they cannot drive at nighttime or in unfamiliar areas, read small print or do computer work,” she related.
In designing the trial, Dr. Akpek suspected that the conventional short 75-word eye tests that discern reading speed and accuracy have failed to uncover the impediments that may be caused by dry eye. “We suspected that people with dry eye were mostly unable to sustain good reading performance because their tears can’t re-lubricate their eye surfaces fast enough,” she noted.
The team recruited the 186 participants age 50 or older (mean age 63), who had not used prescription or over-the-counter eye drops in the 24 hours before testing. The group had 116 participants with clinically significant dry eye, 39 with dry eye symptoms but no clinical findings, and 31 participants without dry eye acted as controls.
Sezen Karakus, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and a member of the research team, then administered a new reading test comprising 7,200 words, which is much longer and takes participants about 30 minutes to complete.
Results showed that the 116 participants with clinically significant dry eye read fewer words per minute than the controls or those with only dry eye symptoms. The reading rate was 32 words per minute fewer in patients with clinically significant dry eye, averaging 240 words per minute compared to the controls and patients with dry eye symptoms but without clinical findings, who read at the same rate of 272 words per minute.
Akpek said the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye are often complicated because it is caused by a range of conditions such as clogged oil glands, to systemic inflammation from a rheumatologic disorder.
“The most effective treatments are those tailored to the underlying causes of the dry eye, the severity of the tear deficiency and a patient’s activities,” she asserted. “People who experience frequent dry eye symptoms such as stinging, fluctuating vision and dryness can try over the counter eye drops, but will do best if they undergo professional testing and diagnosis.”
Healthy Take Aways:
• Age-related eye conditions—cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration—all dwindle the ability to see clearly and in some cases, can cause legal blindness.
• Adults spend on average 9.5 hours in front of media screens.
• Untreated, said sources, dry eye can damage eye surfaces, cause inflammation in the eye, abrasions of the corneal surface, and an increased risk of eye infections.
• One study of 40,000 women showed that increases in omega-3 consumption resulted in a 30 percent reduction in the risk of dry eye symptoms for each 1,000 mg dose taken daily.
• Lutein and bilberry extract may help protect against light-induced damage and rebuild damaged parts of the eye.
For More Information:
Bio Essence Herbal Essentials, www.bioessence.com
Boiron USA, www.boironusa.com
Patient One Formulas, www.patientoneformulas.com
Proactive Health Labs, www.phlabs.com
WeLife Naturals, www.welifenaturals.com