Do you know that dry eye is a condition that accounts for up to 80% of all eye disorders that lead people to go to the ophthalmologist? However, dry eye is often not easy to treat, leaving problems that can worsen the quality of life. The diet can help, even in this case, by improving and stabilizing ocular hydration. This emerges from a recent scientific research that appeared in the Nutrients journal thanks to the work of a Spanish team (Molina Leyva et al, Nutrients, 2020).
The problem of dry eye
Dry eye is a very common condition that causes burning and irritation of the eyes, blurred vision, redness of the eyes and photophobia. The causes of dry eye are many, such as advancing age, but also the use of contact lenses, the intake of certain drugs such as diuretics, antidepressants, antihistamines, oral contraceptives and cholesterol-lowering drugs and exposure to allergens and cigarette smoke. Dry eye treatment is not easy. In fact, until now the methods were essentially of two types. The first consists in applying artificial tears, which, however, is often not pleasing to people, the second in identifying the cause and removing it. As we have seen, however, the causes are various and many cannot be changed. So what to do against dry eye? Diet and lifestyle can help, but let's understand better.
Mediterranean diet and healthy lifestyle
The authors of the study started from two observations. The first is that the action of free radicals can cause inflammation in the eye and therefore alter the lubrication of the eye. The second is that dry eye is often associated with metabolic syndrome, in turn linked to an increase in the systemic inflammatory state and the release of cytokines, which can cause damage to the cornea and to the cells responsible for the secretion of the tear film. Therefore, given these considerations, the researchers tried to understand how changes in lifestyle, aimed at keeping body weight under control, and in the diet, adopting the anti-inflammatory diet par excellence, namely the Mediterranean Diet, can improve dry eye.
The researchers recruited 34 people, all between 55 and 74 years of age, who were overweight and diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to follow the guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet for 6 months with an increase in the intake of extra virgin olive oil and walnuts. The second group followed a low-calorie Mediterranean diet and underwent gymnastics sessions. The dry eye parameters were evaluated, for all study participants, at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. What emerged was that the dry eye indicators improved in all study participants with an increase and subsequent stabilization of the eye hydration level. Not only that, the greatest benefits were observed in the second group, which in addition to following a healthy and balanced diet also worked to reduce body weight.
Therefore, small changes in diet and lifestyle can help reduce the inflammatory state of the body and eye and improve ocular lubrication. So, adopting an active and non-sedentary lifestyle and choosing to adhere to the Mediterranean diet as much as possible turn out to be precious allies, not only for heart and brain health but also for the eyes. The Mediterranean diet is a type of diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, dried fruit, cereals, possibly wholegrain, fish and extra virgin olive oil and is instead characterized by a low intake of meat and dairy products.