Common Eye Problems

Eyes, Men's Health, Women's Health | January 6, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Eyes

Common Eye Problems

Many people experience problems with their eyes, especially as they get older. Dry eyes, changes in vision, chalazion, allergies and infections are common issues that can be experienced by any age group.

Here’s the A-Z of common disorders and conditions that affect the eyes.

Allergies

AllergiesSeasonal allergies such as allergic rhinitis can affect the eyes causing them to water, itch, redden and feel irritated.

Eye allergies can be referred to as “allergic conjunctivitis” which is an abnormal immune response to pollen, animals, dust and mould. Allergic reactions may also be due to makeup, cosmetics or chemicals that encounter the eye.

In these situations, natural therapies that reduce the allergic response would be recommended and include:

  • quercetin
  • vitamin C
  • zinc
  • albizzia

Applying eye drops and a wet washer can help to provide more immediate relief.

Blepharitis

Eye lid inflammation that affects the eyelashes and tear production is referred to as blepharitis. It is often associated with infections, gland dysfunction in the eyelids, dry eyes and chronic skin disorders such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Symptoms include:

  • debris or dandruff at the base of the eyelashes
  • burning or stinging eyes
  • irritated, watery eyes
  • itchy eyelids
  • grittiness or a foreign body sensation

Treatment includes addressing other associated conditions, eye drops, cleansing eyelids twice daily and applying dilated tea tree oil to eyelid margins if indicated.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which is normally clear. It causes blurred vision, inability to see in dim light, vision loss and seeing halos around lights. They are usually treated by removing the cloudy lens of the eye with surgery. Most cataracts are associated with the ageing process. Exposure to unprotected UV sunlight, smoking, diabetes and family history are all risk factors for developing cataracts. Quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses and managing diabetes with correct diet are all ways to prevent early development of cataract.

Chalazion

A chalazion is a small fluid-filled cyst that causes a swelling on the eyelid. They are caused by a blockage in the Meibomian glands which secrete an oily fluid to help lubricate the eye. It may expand into a swelling (cyst) and leak into the eyelid tissue. This promotes an inflammatory process and over time this inflammation can cause a firm lump to form on the eyelid.

Chalazions Chalazions can resolve without any intervention but occasionally they can remain for a long time and may need to be surgically removed.

Treatment options include a warm compress 3-4 times daily, along with massage of the eyelid by gently pushing towards the eyelashes. Gently cleansing the eyes twice daily can remove debris which contributes to the formation of cysts. A diet high in essential fatty acids and vitamin A  and low in dairy, chocolate and saturated fats can help prevent their formation in susceptible people.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an eye infection caused by a bacterial or viral infection which is especially common in children under the age of 5.

Symptoms include:

  • sensitivity to light
  • eye irritation and redness
  • excessive tears in the eyes
  • a discharge with pus
  • swelling of the eyelids

During infection zinc, vitamin C, echinacea and eyebright can be taken internally. A sterile eye bath can be made to provide relief of symptoms and remove pathogens. Add 12 drops of a liquid herb such as chamomile, calendula and eyebright to a glass bowl containing a ¼ cup of boiling water. Leave to cool and transfer to a sterile eye bath and wash each eye separately up to 4 times a day. Eye drops containing manuka honey could also be used.

Dry Eyes

When tears aren’t enough to provide adequate moisture dry eyes can result. Symptoms include the sensation of having a foreign object in the eye, irritation, itching and some vision fluctuation.

There are factors which contribute to dry eyes and some of these include dry air and wind, infrequent blinking from staring at a computer screen, ageing, chemical irritants, certain medical conditions and ageing.

To combat the uncomfortable symptoms most people opt for eye drops, gels or ointments. Applying moist heat with a heat pack or warm flannelette for up to ten minutes can help tears naturally regenerate. Making a conscious effort to blink more can be helpful, especially when staring at a computer for long periods of time. Foods high in omega-3 essential fatty acids can improve the problem from the inside out.

This includes supplementing with:

  • fish oil
  • cod liver oil or
  • flaxseed oil.

Eye strain

Staring at a computer screen, reading or driving long distances can lead to eye strain and fatigue. It causes pain in or around the eyes, blurred vision, headache and occasionally double vision. Although it’s not damaging your eyes the symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Blinking more frequently, giving your eyes a rest frequently by looking away from a computer screen and treating dry eye can all be helpful in combating the symptoms. Supplementing with magnesium, bilberry and omega-3 have been proven to prevent eye strain.

Glaucoma

A group of eye conditions that cause a loss in vision and may lead to blindness. Damage occurs to the optic nerve because of pressure inside the eye.

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to have your eyes tested.

Currently 50% of people with the condition remain undetected. Glaucoma can happen at any age but is more common as we get older.

Supplements which have been found to be beneficial include:

  • magnesium
  • lipoic acid
  • thiamine
  • B12
  • bilberry
  • ginkgo 

They are nutrients which help to protect the optic nerve, reduce oxidative damage and enhance blood flow to the region.

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References

https://www.webmd.boots.com/eye-health/guide/common-eye-problems?page=4

https://patient.info/health/chalazion-leaflet

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/eyes-common-problems

Kawabata F, Tsuji T. Effects of dietary supplementation with a combination of fish oil, bilberry extract, and lutein on subjective symptoms of asthenopia in humans. Biomed Res. 2011 Dec;32(6):387-93

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22199129

Ozawa Y, et al. Bilberry extract supplementation for preventing eye fatigue in video display terminal workers. J Nutr Health Ageing. 2015 May;19(5):548-54

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25923485

Head KA. Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Apr;6(2):141-66

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11302779

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