A large percent of the population is chronically dehydrated. Even mild dehydration may be a culprit of many health problems including dry eyes. by Dr. Michael Lange, Optometric Physician and certified nutrition specialist
Dehydration and dry eyes will be addressed in this article.
Are you drinking enough of the right type of water on a daily basis? Most people are not getting proper hydration throughout the day. Many of our health issues and symptoms could be related to chronic dehydration. Studies indicate that as high as 75% of Americans are exhibiting some form of dehydration. Dehydration may be a factor in many patients that experience chronic dry eye disease. Some symptoms of dehydration are mood swings, depression, dry mouth, dry eyes, dry skin, weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, rapid heart beat, confusion, cognitive problems, fatigue , heart burn, head aches, decreased urine out put, dark yellow urine, just to mention a few. We lose water every day through water vapor in our breath as we exhale, urine, perspiration and in our stools. When we lose water we also lose electrolytes. A deficiency or unbalance in our electrolytes can further aggregate a dehydrated condition. Most Americans drink large amounts of coffee, tea, alcohol and sodas which act as diuretics and can bring on a dehydrated state very quickly. Many are also taking medications that further increase the risk of dehydration. Think about it, how many glasses of water have you had today??
One natural approach to treating dry eyes is to make sure you are not dehydrated and you consume adequate amounts of water throughout the day. Adequate Dry eye nutrition is important but it is useless without the right amount of water. Think of water as nutrition! Water is just as important for dry eye treatment as omega 3 fish oil is. Many of my dry eye patients are deficient in omega 3 and are dehydrated since they are not drinking the correct amount of good water. I feel that dehydration and dry eyes go hand in hand. I recommend that all of my patients routinely drink half their body weight in ounces of water. If you are working out doors or very athletic and perspiring a lot then you will need more water intake than this. So do you simply drink more tap water? They type of water you drink is crucial.
I recommend avoiding the tap water do to 100s of toxic chemicals like Chlorine, fluoride and aluminum that are in the typical tap water . The amounts of chemicals in tap water are relatively low however everything is cumulative , consumed daily this water may have potentially long-term toxic effects. I recommend that my patients drink spring water that is bottled in glass containers. Spring water is high in minerals and has a more alkaline ph that are both important for proper hydration. If you can’t find spring water in glass bottles then it is ok to drink it out of plastic bottles as long as it is at room temperature. Do not heat or cool the plastic bottles because this tends to releases potentially harmful bisphenols into the water. Bisphenols may cause endocrine disruption and aggregate and already existing dry eye. Stay away from drinking large amounts of reverse osmosis, distilled water or purified bottled water. The reverse osmosis system and distillation makes water that is extremely pure however it has too acidic of a ph and is void of any minerals. I along with many other health care practitioners are concerned about the potential bisphenol contamination from the plastic membranes the water is forced through in reverse osmosis systems. Some experts feel that if you consume large amounts of reverse osmosis water or distilled water that it may cause leaching of minerals from you body. Well water can be a safe option if the proper purification is done. I recommend having an expert test your well water for any potential pathogens , chemicals, fertilizers and even radon. Well water can be made a safe inexpensive source of water by installing a commercial grade UV system to kill any potential pathogens, a whole house carbon filter to get rid of potential chemicals and a potassium softener. Many areas of the country have radon contaminating the well water so it is important to test the water for radon. There are specific radon mitigation systems that can eliminate radon from your well water as well. If you drink the proper water you will be healthier, feel better and potentially have less dry eye symptoms as well.
Certain types of dry eye have been linked to a potassium deficiency. People that are dehydrated have low electrolytes including potassium. This is one reason I recommend everyone especially people with dry eyes drink a couple of glasses of organic coconut water every day. Coconut water is a perfect natural way to hydrate the body that has plenty of potassium. Coconut water in recent studies has been shown to hydrate athletes as well as the commercial sports drinks naturally. A recent study also indicates drinking coconut water may help to lower cholesterol. I do not recommend the colorful sports drinks due to their high amounts of sugar, synthetic dyes and potential bisphenol contamination from the plastic bottles. All of these things in these sports drinks may cause endocrine disruption and this could aggravate a dry eye condition. My very athletic patients I sometimes recommend adding a pinch of celtic sea salt to their coconut water during their workouts and drinking organic chocolate milk right after their event to help hydrate quickly and give some much-needed carbohydrates and protein. If you are athletic you will need to hydrate more frequently than normal. Celtic sea salt is raw unrefined sea salt with no additives that is filled with trace minerals. I always recommend speaking with your physician before adding salt to your water.
I enjoy discussing proper nutrition for dry eyes with all of my patients no matter what their age is. I have seen some remarkable dry eye improvements in patients when they simply start rehydrating more with the proper fluids and avoiding the bad fluids. I have also seen some amazing overall health improvements with these same patients.
In summary drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Drink spring water from glass bottles. If you drink spring water in plastic bottles then drink at room temperature. Drink a couple of glasses of coconut water daily. Avoid drinking tap water. If you must drink tap water at least run it through a carbon filter to minimize some of the chemical contaminants. If you are drinking well water install a commercial grade Uv system, whole house carbon filter and a potassium softener. Try not to consume large amounts of reverse osmosis or distilled water. If you work outdoors or are participating in a sports make sure you drink more water than normal. Nutrition for dry eyes also consists of consuming 8-10 servings of organic fruits and vegetables a day and taking a good triglyceride form omega 3 fish oil with an EPA of 850-900 and DHA of 550-600. I recommend Fortifeye Super Omega since it falls in this range and is only $25 a bottle. http://www.fortifeye.com I have been involved omega index studies using Fortifeye Super Omega proving two per day dosing will move the omega index to a true therapeutic level over 9%. This is the level of omega 3 that is heart healthy and thus eye healthy. Omega 3 for dry eyes and omega index blood testing will be another article I will write about on this site in the near future.
Keep the Faith
Michael Lange OD, CNS
January 1, 2013
one of your New Years resolutions is to hydrate correctly throughout the day! Drink to your health ! Proper nutrition for dry eyes is a start in the right direction.