Ever experience the sensation of sand in your eye causing you to rub and rub and rub then leaving you with a red-eye? Or, what about uncontrolled tear production that does nothing to moisten your eye rather, it makes it burn with the only relief coming from eye drops or washing your eyes out with fresh water. What about when you wear contacts, and no amount of eye drops will help keep your lenses in place and your always squinting just to see properly.
These experiences all describe my life during my last year in college, all culminating while I was overseas teaching English in Albania. At that time, I had no clue what the matter was, only that it wasn’t normal and boy, it sure was uncomfortable!
Like most of my health issues, college was a train wreck on my health. Late night study sessions, poor nutrition, weight gain, little to no exercise, stress of being away from home. These all played a role in exacerbating what was most likely an already underlying issue – hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, and an overall unhealthy body.
Spring of 2010 brought another hurdle for my already over taxed body. In preparation to co-lead a missions trip to Albania and enter a foreign country, I was advised to receive the hepatitis B series of shots*. I received my first shot during spring break of 2010 and left for my missions trip in June of that year. (I recently found this article discussing the correlation of hepatitis B with Sjögren’s syndrome, a dry eye and mouth autoimmune. Though I have never been diagnosed with Sjögren’s , dry eyes are a major symptom and every eye doctor I see always asks if I’ve ever been tested.)
While I was in Albania, I noticed my contacts had begun to feel like sand paper in my eyes, getting stuck under my eyelids and causing my eyes to be dry as a bone by days end. It disconcerted me, caused frustration, and a hope that I would be able to wear contacts full-time someday soon.
On return to the states, I knew something just wasn’t right. My eyes continued to cause problems; an over sensitivity to onions, dryness through the day causing my tear ducts to run, extreme grittiness, and a feeling of blurry vision. I scheduled an appointment with my ophthalmologist. My appointment confirmed with a Schermer’s test that tear production was so low it wasn’t even on the charts in one eye while the other eye registered just enough to show slight production. I was advised to start Restasis, a prescription drug that costs an arm and a leg, which would hopefully lead to an increase in my tear production.
Dry Eye Facts
“Dry eyes result from an imbalance of tear fluid secretion and its evaporation and drainage. Research has shown that tear fluid secretion from lachrymal glands, which are positioned under the eyelids, decreases as results of oxidative stress. ” – Carotec Health Report May 2018
“Dry eyes commonly develop as a side effect of medications such as antihistamines. Women more commonly experience dry eyes than men and symptoms often develop with increasing age.” – Carotec Health Report May 2018
Remedies for Low Tear Production
An anti-inflammatory used to treat dry eyes usually caused by inflammation. Its base is cyclosporine which suppresses the immune system. In the eye, Restasis works to reduce and stop the build up of dead white blood cells that have accumulated in the tear duct. The avg. cost is between $500-600.
Cleaning up your diet, eating food rich in omegas, and taking supplements may aid your body in producing more tears as well. Restasis worked for me, but if your young, try not to look at it as a long-term fix. Figure out what the root of the problem is for your body and work to get yourself off of using these drops long term. It’ll save your wallet some $$!
For me, I have gone off of Restasis and now manage my tear production with fish oils and a supplement called Eye Nourish Plus. I wish I would have tried weening myself off of this prescription sooner, but it wasn’t until I switched to my eye doctor here in Missouri that he questioned if it was really something I needed to keep using. He was willing to ask the WHY question rather than just handing over the medication. THANK YOU!
Fish oil/Krill oil
Ask any eye professional and they will tell you the benefits of omega-3 supplements have on your eye.
“Omega-3 fatty acids also have been found to reduce the risk of dry eyes. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84, those with the highest ratio of (potentially harmful) omega-6 fatty acids to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in their diet (15-to-1) had a significantly greater risk of dry eye syndrome, compared with the women with the lowest ratio (less than 4-to-1). The study also found that the women who ate at least two servings of tuna per week had significantly less risk of dry eye than women who ate one or fewer servings per week.
Omega-3 fatty acids also may help treat dry eyes. In a recent study of dry eyes induced in mice, topical application of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs and inflammation associated with dry eye.” – All About Vision
One company, Carotec, has done extensive research on krill oil and has found that it can have just as much if not more of a positive effect on tear production. I’ve been using their krill oil now for a couple of months and on my last visit to the ophthalmologist having been off of Restasis for a couple of months, my tear production was doing just fine. Still low, but not in the range of concern to put me back onto Restasis.
Eye Nourish Plus
A new to me supplement produced by Carotec called Eye Nourish Plus is something I am super excited about. It is a mixture of all three macular carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin as well as Maqui-Bright (extract from Peruvian maqui berries) which has been showing promise in helping people with dry eyes syndrome. (A 2017 study demonstrated a 25% increase in tear production – in just four weeks with 60 mg of MaqiBright – Carotec Health Report May 2018)
Our eyes need all three macular carotenoids in order to receive the most benefit. Not only that, they also need fats to absorb well, which is why Eye Nourish Plus has coconut oil placed inside each pill along with the other supplements.
Just last week I received my first shipment Eye Nourish Plus, and I’m excited to take it and see if the results are the same as or better than omega-3’s. I’ll update you all as I use them over the next few months!
My Weekly/Daily Routine
Wearing Glasses vs. Contacts and my rotation
Contacts are known to dry out eyes by soaking up the extra tears. I’ve found that on the days I wear contacts, by the evening when I’m taking my contacts out my vision isn’t as clear and the contacts sometimes stick to my eye.
Because of this, I make sure to rotate the wearing of my contacts with several eye “rest days” in-between by wearing glasses. Usually I go 2-4 days between contact wearings. This rotation I feel gives my eyes a break and allows me to continue wearing contacts on the days I feel like going glasses-free.
Lubricating eye drops twice daily
On top of rotating my glasses and contacts, I have also begun to hydrate my eyes with artificial tears twice a day. Once in the morning after my shower and before makeup and then again in the evening after I’ve cleansed my face. It is one of the most refreshing feelings and I now won’t travel without them. I’ve been using this eye relief drop as well as this support drop as well and have been very pleased.
Just know, you aren’t the only person below the age of 60 with dry eyes. Just know, there are solutions. Just know, there are natural solutions!
*This post is not about the vices of vaccinations, I’m just being open and honest with my story and what I feel may have been a side effect of this shot. I’m married to a doctor and let me tell you, the vaccination topic has come up frequently! My mantra is, educate yourself and make your decisions based on what you feel is right for your body and your family. Vaccines have pro’s and con’s, there’s no doubt about that. I’m all for some vaccines while others I am more leery of. Educate educate educate!
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