carolyn johnson

Healthy Answers for Life: Natural Help for Dry Eyes

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By Carolyn Johnson

Chronic dry eyes are a problem that millions of American adults suffer from, and it seems to become more even more prevalent as we age (interestingly, it seems to affect more women than men). Dry eyes can go from feeling a little uncomfortable to making you absolutely miserable, so I wanted to share some natural things that may help. When I had COVID this past spring, one of my weird symptoms was eye dryness, and it was absolutely terrible, so I feel like I have a new understanding for people who deal with eye dryness on a regular basis.

Most people use eye drops for eye dryness, and while that’s not a bad thing, it’s not really fixing the problem other than for the short period of time after you put the eye drops in – plus carrying eye drops everywhere you go is certainly a hassle. If you’re looking for an eye drop, there is one I’d recommend in particular – Brite Eyes by Life Extention. I like them because in addition to lubricating the eye, they also contain the antioxidant amino acid N-acetyl-carnosine. The addition of this antioxidant in eye drops has been linked to benefits to vision and corneal health since that unique amino acid appears to be able to actually penetrate into the cornea to confer antioxidant benefits. There have been two small studies with extremely positive results, showing benefits for visual acuity, glare sensitivity, and cataract prevention for the vast majority of participants. The studies were so positive that many researchers are skeptical of the results and recommended further study, but to date it doesn’t seem like any further studies have been performed. Still, even if the N-acetyl-carnosine eye drops aren’t as miraculous as reported in the two trials that were done, they aren’t harmful, so I think they might be something to try (with any supplement, it’s good to give it a bit of time to see results – most studies that are done range from four to 12 weeks).

There are a few different prescriptions available for dry eyes, but most people look for a non-prescription solution first, which is always a good idea. I wanted to share about a new natural product I’ve been reading about that seems to have really positive results for helping people with dry eyes – the extract of a berry native to Chile and Argentina called the maqui berry (pronounced “muh-kee” with the emphasis on the “kee” sound in case you were interested). In research, maqui berry extract taken in a capsule form was able to naturally boost the body’s own tear production, and showed a really impressive improvement in the participant’s dry eye symptoms, with benefits seen after one month but continuing with even better results after two months of use.

One study gave participants quizzes where they rated their symptoms of dry eyes and quality of life, and the people who used the maqui berry supplements had a 72% improvement in their dry eye symptoms after two months. Another study measured the amount of tear fluid in the participant’s eyes, and after using the maqui supplements for just four weeks had an 89% increase in their production of tear fluid (people affected by dry eyes have been shown to have significantly reduced tear production).

We have a supplement containing the amount used in both studies at Pass Health Foods in Palos Heights called Eye Moisturize by the local brand Now Foods. The studies on the extract are pretty impressive, so I’d say it’s definitely worth trying if you or someone you know suffers from dry eyes. Plus, early results were seen in four weeks, so it’s not something that needs to be taken for ages without seeing a benefit, which is nice.

A few other recommendations we’d have for dry eyes include trying to blink more in general. Studies have found that we blink less when we’re looking at electronic devices, so that’s something to keep in mind. One guideline says to close your eyes for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes that you’re at a computer or other device, which is a good idea. Using a warm compress on the eyes may also help as well as being sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.

Carolyn Johnson is one of the owners at Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive in Palos Heights. Feel free to stop by the store for more information or advice.

This column makes no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate, or cure diseases with any advice or products. Any health-related information in this article is for educational purposes only. The ultimate responsibility for your choices and their effect on your health are yours and before applying any therapy or use of herbs, supplements, etc., you should consult your health care provider.

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