Krill Oil & Dry Eye
Dry Eye Syndrome and Blue Light
Many of my new readers only have read my newsletters and are unaware that I have an older series of writings under the “Blog” button. One of those blogs is a detailed article on how to treat Dry Eye Syndrome (follow link for access).
Since that article covers all ancillary nutrients required for treating dry eye syndrome, this newsletter will summarize the issue and examine the more recent discovery concerning the benefits of krill oil for aiding this condition.
Blue light is known as “high-energy visible light” (HEV), and does occur naturally in sunlight, but is emitted in high amounts by fluorescent light bulbs, and LED light sources like cellphones, computer monitors and newer TV screens. When blue light is emitted from these sources it comes without the rest of the light spectrum, which would serve to balance it out and prevent damage. This is why many people are using red light therapy to counteract our excessive exposure to blue light. (More on the subject of Red Light and Vision can be found in this newsletter.)
When the eyes are exposed to excessive HEV light and UV radiation, free radicals and reactive oxygen species are created, which cause inflammation and damage to the eyes. Given our current predilection for excessive screen time, blue light exposure is at an all time high, and dry eye is one of the symptoms this causes, others being blurred vision, headaches, irritation, itchiness, and redness.
The more severe symptom is macular degeneration, addressed in this newsletter, Protecting the Eyes from Blue Light Damage (scroll down past the first subject.) But, the long and short of it is that the most important supplement to use for preventing macular degeneration is one that contains 20 to 40 mg of lutein, along with 4 to 10 mg of zeaxanthin. There is also good research supporting the use of astaxanthin for treating eye disorders including macular degeneration. (Source)
Even if you don’t have signs of macular degeneration you should take lutein and zeaxanthin as a preventative. And, in fact, a study with young people found that 24 mg of lutein and 4 mg of zeaxanthin reduced symptoms of eye strain and fatigue, and headache frequency, while improving glare tolerance, in those with prolonged blue light exposure from digital devices.
Tears are what keep your eyes clean, lubricated, moisturized, and nourished. There are three layers to a healthy tear: the aqueous layer, lipid layer, and mucin layer. When we blink a protective layer of basal tears cover the surface of the eye.
We produce two types of tears: Basal tears provide nutrients to the eye as well as washing away debris and lubricating the eye; Reflex tears are released in response to chemical irritants and foreign bodies.
Now, dry eye occurs when the eye is producing low quality basal tears or not producing enough to do the job. This can result in the aforementioned symptoms or, on a mild level, just a sensation of tired eyes. At a more severe level, symptoms can include pain, or a sense of pressure behind the eyes, initially occasionally but ultimately continuous.
Aside from excessive screen time other causes of dry eye include drugs (antidepressants and antihistamines), and air pollution, and sometimes even low humidity.
As we age we produce fewer tears making us more prone to this condition, and as well when women enter menopause they may experience dry eye syndrome due to the changes in their hormones.
From a nutritional perspective, the eyes require the B vitamins, carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals copper and zinc. (These nutrients are all present in adequate amounts for preventing dry eye in our NutriPods products.)
And, perhaps most importantly, omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, having too many omega 6 fatty acids in the diet, along with insufficient omega 3’s, has been shown to contribute to severe symptoms of dry eye. (Source). (For more on the subject of Essential Fatty Acids see this newsletter.)
Thus it is important when treating this condition that one not only increase omega 3 intake, but also reduce their intake of the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids (found mostly in seed oils).
There are two primary components of omega 3’s: DHA, which is required for the development and maintenance of healthy vision, and EPA which, among other things, has anti-inflammatory properties. Since much of the damage caused by blue light is inflammatory in nature, we can see why this component would be of value in treating such conditions.
This link between dry eyes and omega 3 fatty acids is so well established that it is the primary recommendation of doctors and even the American Academy of Ophthalmology, for treating symptoms of dry eye, along with many other eye problems.
Of our choices in omega 3 products, krill oil has advantages over conventional fish oils, especially in the treatment of dry eye syndrome. For one thing krill oil is at least five times more absorbable than fish oil due to it being in a phospholipid form (making it akin to liposomal products). This makes it more effective at a far lower dose than fish oil (3 small caps of 500 mg is a therapeutic dose, comparable to about 6 large, 1000 mg fish oil caps). But moreso, given its phospholipid form, the fatty acids in krill oil can easily enter into cells whereas conventional fish oils do their work outside of the cells.
A study published in Ophthalmology (2017) showed that krill oil can help improve eye health through a number of mechanisms:
- “Krill oil supports healthy tear production by reducing tear osmolarity” (thickness).
- “Krill oil increases tear film stability (reduced tear stability can lead to eye irritation, blinking, and inflammation).”
- “Krill oil is an effective ingredient in reducing symptoms of dry eye such as inflammation, irritation, and redness.”
Krill oil has one other advantage over fish oil in that it contains astaxanthin (mentioned above as helpful for treating macular degeneration), which of the fish oils only salmon oil contains.
Aside from what has been discussed above, there are a few other things we can do to reduce the damage that blue light is causing to our eyes. Obviously, reducing screen time is one thing, but also taking breaks during long sessions is helpful. In fact, some experts recommend that you take a break after 20 minutes of screen time and try to look far afield (e.g. out the window) for at least two minutes.
Getting full spectrum light bulbs for your house can help fill in parts of the light spectrum that are missing from digital screens. Eye fatigue benefits from getting adequate sleep, an dlighting can be adjusted to reduce glare.
Finally, it is important to maintain a healthy immune system, since the immune system keeps undue inflammation in check. (ImmuneStart)
For those who have yet to read my blog called A Perspective on Vision, I highly recommend you do so as it offers an unorthodox approach to total eye health.
(Author: All newsletters and blogs are written by Ken Peters who has worked as a nutritional consultant for the last 30 years, and as product designer for NutriStart for the last 25 years. He has also authored two books – Health Secrets Vol. 1&2. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)