You probably have suffered some form of mild eye irritation at some point in your life; this inflammation can cause eye redness, watering, pain, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Some forms of eye inflammation present a temporary bane with few long-term effects, but certain eye diseases, such as blepharitis and dry eye, might be associated with inflammation as well and might lead to vision loss. Treatments for these inflammatory diseases exist, but these therapies do not always work or might lead to long-term treatment. Changes in your diet might help improve your condition by lowering the amount of inflammation in your body.
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Eye Conditions Associated with Inflammation
Several eye diseases have been associated with inflammation, which might be responsible for some of the symptoms of dry-eye syndrome, as noted by EyeCareEducators.com. Blepharitis -- an inflammation of the eyelids -- is also a condition associated with dry eye and often contributes to the irritation related to that condition. Inflammation inside the eye, which is called uveitis, might be associated with other systemic medical conditions, such as infections or cancers, according to USCHealth. Some researchers believe eating foods that do not promote inflammation inside the body might lessen inflammatory responses in the eye. Data do not support an anti-inflammatory diet as a treatment for eye conditions, but some dietary changes might help in some cases. You should still discuss any eye problems with your eye care professional.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids seem to lessen the creation of inflammatory substances in the body, according to RD411.com. Eating more foods that contain omega-3's has been shown to relieve the symptoms of dry eye, which is one eye condition associated with inflammation, as noted on AllAboutVision.com. These fatty acids are present in fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and tuna, as well as omega-3 supplement tablets. Flaxseed oil might also improve inflammation of the eye as well. You should let your physician know if you are increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids because this supplement might interact with some medications you might be taking.
Increasing your intake of antioxidants might also lower the inflammation in your body and might play a role in the health of your eyes. Vitamins A, C and E are all antioxidants that lower levels of inflammation in the body, as noted on SusanMitchell.org. Antioxidants target free radicals, which are substances that can damage tissues, according to NetDoctor.co.uk. Good sources of vitamin A include dark-green leafy vegetables and yellow or red vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts, while vitamin E is abundant in whole grains and oils. Other antioxidants such as the minerals selenium and magnesium are also present in these foods and can work to lower inflammation in the body as well.
Include More Spices
Spices have been used for many years in other cultures as medicinal cures. Research has found that some spices really do have some health benefits and contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Curcumin -- which is found in turmeric and curry powder -- is anti-inflammatory, according to registered dietitian Sharon Palmer in the July 2007 issue of "Today's Dietitian." Other spices with anti-inflammatory properties include hot pepper, rosemary, oregano and ginger, as noted by MyFoundationDiet.com. Using spices in your foods offers several benefits -- the potential for anti-inflammatory activity and also adding flavor without using salt. Scientific data supporting the use of spices specifically for eye inflammation are scarce, but lowering the overall levels of inflammation in your body can only be a good outcome.
Foods to Avoid
In a diet designed to lower inflammation, you should eat fewer foods that might increase it. Some examples include processed foods, such as high-fat meats; dairy products; foods that contain sugar; and fast foods, according to NutritionNorthwest.com. Lunch meats and hot dogs contain nitrites, which have been associated with inflammation. Dairy products and meats contain saturated fats, which can increase inflammation as well. These foods contain important nutrients, so you should eat them less often and select lower-fat versions. Following these suggestions not only lowers inflammation, but also is an important part of a balanced diet.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Ophthalmology Management: Dry Eye -- Inflammation and Nutrition
- AllAboutVision.com: Dry Eye Syndrome
- Today's Dietitian; "Top 10 Culinary Herbs and Spices: Flavorful and Functional"; Sharon Palmer; 2007
- NetDoctor.co.uk: Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress
- EyeEducators.com: Inflammation II -- Treatment in Dry Eye Disease