Bilberry for Dry Eyes
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Eyes are constantly exposed to the outside environment and, therefore, more prone to damage, which may simply start as dry eyes. While the importance of external methods of protecting the eyes cannot be denied, the consumption of eye-healthy nutritional supplements can be extremely fruitful.
Bilberry extract is one of those supplements that can help your eyes in numerous ways, especially when it comes to dry eyes. It fights different risk factors for dry eyes and improves the flow of tears.
Follow the article below to learn more about dry eyes and how bilberry supplementation can help you manage them.
DRY EYE DISEASE
Dry eye disease is characterized by the inability of tears to provide sufficient lubrication to your eyes. It can lead to inflammation which may eventually cause damage to your eyes.
This condition mostly affects both eyes with the following signs and symptoms:
- Eye redness
- Burning sensation in eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Eye fatigue
- Mucous around eyes
CAUSES OF DRY EYES
The tear film inside your eyes consists of three layers, i.e. fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. Combination of these three helps to keep the surface of your eyes lubricated. Anything that disrupts these layers of tear film can cause dry eyes.
The causes of dry eyes can be broadly classified into two categories:
DECREASED TEAR PRODUCTION
The inability to produce an adequate amount of aqueous portion of the tear film is known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Some of the common conditions that result in decreased tear production are:
- Autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren's syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disorders
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Corneal nerve desensitivity
- Medications including antihistamines, antidepressants, antihypertensives, and contraceptives
INCREASED TEAR EVAPORATION
The glands responsible for producing a fatty layer of the tear film are known as meibomian glands. One of the most common reasons for increased tear production includes dysfunctional meibomian glands. Other factors that may lead to excessive tear production include:
- Inward turning of the eyelid
- Outward turning of the eyelid
- Blinking less often
- Preservatives present in topical eye drops
- Wind and smoke
- Dry air
Apart from the above-mentioned causes, there are certain risk factors that make you more prone to dry eye disease. These factors include:
- Age – People over the age of 50 years are more likely to develop dry eye disease as compared to younger individuals
- Sex – Women have an increased risk of being affected by dry eye disease, especially when they experience hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, and while using contraceptives
- Diet – Unhealthy diet may also affect your vision, particularly if your diet lacks vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids
- Contact lenses – Wearing contact lenses for a longer duration may cause irritation and disrupt tear film leading to dry eye disease
Dry eyes need timely management; otherwise, not only your vision takes a dip, but also the overall quality of your life may be affected. Some of the common complications associated with dry eyes are listed below:
- Damaged surface of eyes – Dry eyes irritates the surface of your eyes, leading to the onset of an inflammatory reaction. Corneal abrasions and ulcers may also occur, and an individual may even lose his vision in case of severe dry eye disease
- Eye infections - Tears do not only provide lubrication but also protect your eyes against various infections. Therefore, inadequate tear production or increased tear evaporation increase the risk of developing different eye infections
- Poor quality of life – The signs and symptoms of dry eyes disease may impair an individual’s ability to perform day-to-day activities and can make his life miserable
HOW DOES BILBERRY FIGHT DRY EYE DISEASE?
Bilberry manages dry eyes by eliminating the root cause of the condition, i.e., impaired tear secretion. It is beneficial for vascular circulation and ensures that eye tissues are properly oxygenated. As a result, tear secretion through tear glands is improved.
One of the factors that increases the risk of dry eye disease is overwhelming oxidative stress. Bilberry extract is rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins and helps you fight free radical damage (oxidative stress) to prevent dry eyes.
Regular consumption of bilberry supplementation has also demonstrated its ability to significantly increase tear production and secretion and preserve adequate fluid in your eyes for lubrication.
Bilberry extract not only improves tear production and secretion but also provides symptomatic relief to patients with dry eye disease. Individuals report reduced eye discomfort after taking bilberry supplements for managing dry eyes.
SIDE EFFECTS AND PRECAUTIONS
Although bilberry supplementation is not associated with any adverse effects it should be consumed with great care and especially under following circumstances:
- Pregnancy – There is no strong evidence to support the safety of bilberry supplements during pregnancy. Hence, pregnant women should stay on the safe side and avoid bilberry supplementation
- Surgery – You should stop bilberry consumption at least two weeks prior to the scheduled surgery otherwise it may make it difficult to control blood sugar levels during and after the surgery
- Medical therapy – Certain medications can interact with bilberry supplements and result in an increased risk of side effects. Therefore, always discuss your ongoing medications with your physician before taking bilberry supplementation
WRAPPING IT UP
Dry eye disease is a common condition that usually affects both of your eyes and leads to a variety of signs and symptoms. It can occur either due to decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation.
Irrespective of the underlying pathology, dry eye disease can result in associated complications if not managed timely and properly. There are several ways to treat dry eyes using medical therapy; however, a dietary supplement like bilberry extract may assist the recovery.
Bilberry has high antioxidant content, which enables it to effectively combat free radical damage, which is one of the factors for developing dry eye disease. It also improves the delivery of oxygen to the eye tissues and ensures adequate tear secretion to preserve aqueous levels.
It is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting bilberry supplementation, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.