My eyes feel very dry by the end of a long work day, and it makes me feel very tired. Thus, I skip my workouts too often, using my itchy tired eyes as my excuse. Is there a vitamin, mineral or super food that can help me with this? – Erin C.
Though ocular dryness is best remedied with moisturizing drops and treating the underlying cause (whether environmental, lifestyle or physical condition) there is one thing you can add to your diet to attempt some relief: omega-3 fatty acids. The idea is that these essential fatty acids will reduce eye inflammation. Research is promising but not definitive for this treatment of dry eye syndrome. The authors of one review paper* clearly noted “it should be kept in mind that these supplements need some time to work and commitment from patients to achieve its desired goal.”
Essential fatty acid sources include fish and shellfish, flaxseed, linseed, hemp oil, soybean oil, canola oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables and walnuts. Supplements should focus on omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, not omega-6 fats which are abundant in the diet and outweigh omega-3s. Research studies showing a benefit used 600-1800 mg total DHA+EPA or 1000 mg flaxseed oil.
Though you describe your symptoms as work-related you should consider a thorough eye exam especially since the condition impacts your desired exercise level. Your schedule may not accommodate, but consider exercising before work when eyes aren’t bothering you.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Therapy for Dry Eye Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. Liu, A., & Ji, J., 2014. Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, 20, 1583–1589. doi:10.12659/MSM.891364
*Essential fatty acids in the treatment of dry eye syndrome: A myth or reality? Al Mahmood, A. M., & Al-Swailem, S. A., 2014. Saudi Journal of Ophthalmology, 28(3), 195–197. doi:10.1016/j.sjopt.2014.06.004