Who’s not looking at digital screens these days? Often referred to as “computer eyes”, which are dry and burning eyes caused by hours of screen time. Officially known as “computer vision syndrome” this is becoming a growing problem with people looking for solutions.
Dry eye syndrome in itself affects millions, and is a growing problem in the elderly population, as well as other age groups which can be aggravated by activities such as using a computer for an extended period of time, lack of sleep, and the environment in which people live in regards to moisture content of the air. Winter time when people are inside of their house in the forced heat, or even on airplanes can adversely affect issues of dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome can be associated with burning and stinging of the eye, blurry vision, eye fatigue, inflammation and redness.
More information is coming out on how the nutritional sciences can support both issues of Computer and Dry Eye Syndrome.
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, EPA and DHA, as well as GLA have been used successfully to treat general dry eyes effectively.
Researchers ran a three-month study of 478 people with the condition, who used a computer at least three hours a day for a year or more. The study participants were split into two groups. The first group received two daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids consisting of 120 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 180 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The second group received a placebo.
The people who took the omegas experienced greater reduction in their symptoms than the placebo group, according to the research which was published in the journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye.
At the end of the study, the EPA DHA group also had more conjunctival goblet cells, cells responsible for keeping the eyes lubed, on the surface of their eyes. Their tear evaporation was also slower.
It seems that every day research finds another reason to make us realize that it is irresponsible not to have our vitamin D levels measured, and optimize accordingly.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Disease, has linked vitamin D deficiency to dry eye syndrome and its severity. In this study, researchers compared the prevalence between postmenopausal women deficient in vitamin D, and sufficient in vitamin D. They chose premenopausal women has hormone changes have been found to be associated with dry eye.
They divided the women into two groups, 50 with deficient levels of vitamin D, below 20 ng/ml, and 48 women with sufficient levels, greater than 20ng/ml.
The researchers used three different tests to diagnose dry eyes: Schirmer’s test, tear break-up time test (TBUT) and ocular surface disease index (OSDI). They also evaluated the functional status, pain severity and fatigue severity of the women by using the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), Visual analogue scale-pain (VAS-pain) and the Fatigue severity scale (FSS), respectively.
Here is what the researchers found:
· The average vitamin D levels were 13.45 ng/ml and 47.64 ng/ml of vitamin D deficient women and vitamin D sufficient women, respectively.
· 52% of the vitamin D deficient women had dry eyes according to Schirmer’s test compared to only 4% of the controls.
· 74% of the vitamin D deficient women had dry eyes according to TBUT scores compared to 12% of the controls.
· 70% of the vitamin D deficient women had dry eyes according to OSDI compared to 19% of the controls.
· VAS-pain, HAQ and FSS scores were higher in the vitamin D deficient group than the control group, indicating that those considered vitamin D deficient experienced increased pain, fatigue and functional impairment of the eye.
As you can see, the results were consistent suggesting that vitamin D levels can play a major role in the presence of dry eye. In regards to this research, it seems that levels closer to the 50 ng/ml of vitamin D is needed to provide adequate prevention of dry eye. These levels fall in line with adequate vitamin D levels need to prevent a myriad of other diseases.
In counseling your clients about tired, dry, and computer eyes, consider opening the conversation with vitamin D and essential fatty acids- the research backs it, and I think they will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Tovey, A. & Cannell, J. New study suggests vitamin D deficiency is related to dry eye. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, 2015.