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Dry Eye Syndrome


Chronically dry eyes are the result of some problem with the production of the tears that lubricate healthy eyes in their sockets. Dry eye syndrome (DES) is most common among contact lens wearers and people who have undergone laser eye surgery (one of the less well publicised possible side effects of the surgery!). Older people may also experience DES because their tears contain less oils than those of younger people. If chronic DES is left untreated, damage the cornea can result and the consequent surface scarring may then lead to some vision loss.

A ‘meta-analysis’ of data relating to the diets of a group of women has indicated that women who had the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids were 20 percent more likely to develop DES, compared to women with the highest intake. Women who ate five or more tuna servings per week reduced the risk of contracting DES risk by more than 65 percent compared to women who ate one or fewer servings per week. So where there is no obvious cause of DES such as those listed in the first paragraph above, it is well worth trying a regime of fish oil supplementation to see if this helps.

Unfortunately if omega-3 supplementation doesn’t help there is no known cure, only ‘artificial tear’ solutions which must be applied regularly. The most commonly prescribed ‘over the counter’ remedies for dry eyes unfortunately often have side effects including irritation, a burning sensation and blurred vision. The principal ingredient, hyaluronic acid, also has the disadvantage that it doesn't remain on the surface of the eye for long because it is rapidly absorbed.


A more effective alternative

A polysaccharide extracted from the seeds of the common tamarind plant called tamarind seed polyose (TSP) has been shown by researchers at the University of Genoa to work at least as well as HA, without the side effects, and to remain on the ocular surface for longer after application. Some manufacturers have already begun to use this active ingredient, but TSP are likely to be hard to find at the moment.



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