Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), is one of the most common conditions diagnosed by eye doctors, and is characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eye and dryness of the eye's corneal surface.
This can happen when the eye doesn't produce enough tears to keep its exposed surface moist. If the cornea dries out, it can ulcerate (break down and become scratched), giving bacteria, viruses, and other harmful organisms tiny hiding places in which to multiply.
It can also occur because the composition of the tears is abnormal. If you've ever tasted your own tears, you know that they're not just made up of water--they also contain sodium, making them taste salty, and many other components. If the proportions of these components change, the tear film won't function effectively.
Dry eye will also happen if the tear film evaporates too quickly. Glands along the edges of the eyelids produce oil, which slows the rate at which the tear film evaporates. If these glands become inflamed or infected, they may produce too little oil.
Sometimes the eyelids are unable to distribute the tear film evenly over the eye's surface. The eyelids may be droopy, a condition called eyelid ptosis, so that the person is unable to close the eyes properly or blink normally. Or the tear film may not contain enough mucus to distribute the tears evenly.
Many medications cause dry eye such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, birth control pills, prescription estrogen hormone replacements, acid and proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, protonix, zantac, prilosec, antidepressants, prednisone, blood pressure medicines such as beta blockers and diuretics and chemotherapy drugs.
Other causes can include LASIK surgery, or health issues such as autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjogren's syndrome. More than 50% of patients with diabetes experience dry eye syndrome.
For women hormonal changes, particularly associated with contraceptives, pregnancy and menopause, often results in Dry Eye Syndrome. Most people think of hot flashes, moodiness, vaginal dryness, and night sweats when they think of menopause. Research has found, however, that dry eyes affect 60 percent of menopausal women.
Obviously identifying the underlying causes with your Holistic Practitioner is important to properly treat Dry Eye Syndrome. However these are a few suggestions I have made to my patients which have been significantly helpful.
- Complete Omega (Nordic Naturals) Helps to moisten eye tissues and decrease inflammation from the inside out. 1 cap 3x day
- Hyaluronic acid 200mg 2x day also helps moisturize skin from the inside out.
- Similisan Dry Eye homeopathic formula- put in eyes throughout the day as often as needed
- Colloidal silver – put a drop in each eye2 x day to prevent bacterial or viral infections and to moisten the eyes. Very beneficial for people who wear contacts.
- Castor oil – put 1 drop in each eye before bed. Anti-inflammatory, puts a barrier between the eye lid and cornea and adds moisture to eye tissue topically as you sleep
- Vitex also known as Chaste tree berry herb taken orally or Natural Progesterone cream used topically helps to balance the female hormones.
As always seek professional advice from your health practitioner before starting any treatment program.
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center, Seekonk, MA. 508-336-4242
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