Eye Sight : Surge in Pollen May Lead to Dry Eyes

High pollen levels in the spring are linked to dry eye syndrome, a recent study suggests. Dry eye is a common condition caused by either decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. Symptoms include burning, blurred vision, and irritation.

Researchers analyzed more than 3 million visits to eye clinics nationwide over a five-year period. During that time, nearly 607,000 cases of dry eye were diagnosed. The highest rate of dry eye occurred in the spring -- the same time pollen levels typically peak every year. Rates of dry eye also spiked in the winter, possibly due to low indoor humidity, according to study authors.

"For the first time, we've found what appears to be a connection between spring allergens like pollen and dry eye, but also saw that cases rose in winter," reports lead researcher Dr. Anat Galor.

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome this time of year, natural remedies may provide relief.

Research finds the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in fish oil may be helpful for dry eyes. In one study of 264 patients with dry eye syndrome, 65 percent of those in the EPA plus DHA group demonstrated significant improvement in dry eye symptoms at three months compared to the placebo group. The improvement was largely due to reduced tear evaporation.

In addition to quality fish oil supplement, eat more foods rich in omega-3 fats -- flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty fish like salmon and sardines are excellent choices. Be sure to drink plenty of water, which will help keep the mucous membranes in your eyes moist. Limit caffeine and alcohol, and eliminate artificial sweeteners, which are irritants to your mucous membranes.

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