You’ve never weighed your eyes, but if you did, you’d find that up to 20 percent of an eyeball’s weight consists of one crucial nutrient…
A crucial nutrient that many people don’t get enough of in their daily diet. What’s more, without enough of this vision superstar, your eyes can grow dry and irritated, and your vision can weaken.
Here’s the story…
A wide range of studies demonstrate that to function correctly your eyes need the omega-3 fats found in fish oil.
In particular, the light-sensing cells in the eye’s retina require the fatty acid included in fish oil named DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). And while every cell in the body needs fatty acids to form membranes and other structures, the cells in the eye have a higher proportion of DHA in their fatty acid content than do any other type of cell in the body.1
Improves Eye Health
According to researchers in Spain, who have reviewed the research on the benefits of DHA, studies show that doses of DHA serve as a “potent antioxidant compound for improving eye health.”2
Along the same lines, tests at Louisiana State University demonstrate that DHA helps the cells in the retina reinforce their defenses against potential oxidative damage that can result from strong light that enters the eyes.3
DHA has also been shown to help stave off dry eye – a condition that afflicts more than 30 million Americans, about one in seven of us.
A clinical trial at the Baylor College of Medicine-Cullen Eye Institute showed that six months of taking supplements of DHA combined with the omega-3 fats GLA and EPA can calm the eye irritation that takes place during this condition, and put a stop to dry eye’s painful inflammation.4
But there’s more…
Stress Can Compromise Eye Health
Along with a lack of DHA, research also reveals that prolonged stress can seriously impair the health of your eyes and the ability to see clearly. German researchers, who have analyzed studies into how stress impacts vision, report that stress can be one of the major causes of conditions like glaucoma (high pressure in the eye that can blot out vision) as well as optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerve).
Their investigations have found that stress can set up a sight-threatening vicious cycle.
First, after stress leads to initial vision issues, the resulting eye problems and limited eyesight complicate daily life in ways that lead to anxiety and depression. Together this worsens eye health.5 As the researchers put it – “Stress leads to vision loss which causes stress, which in turn worsens the vision loss, making the stress even worse and so on.”
During stress, the German researchers report, cortisol – the stress hormone – and inflammation created by the immune system in response to stress “can be toxic to retinal tissues.”6
What Can You Do?
To help your eyes fight off these types of problems, the German researchers recommend stress control techniques like meditation. They point out that meditation “counteracts symptoms of the stress response by slowing the breathing rate, relaxing muscles and normalizing blood pressure.”7
They further explain that meditation has been shown to affect the body’s physiology in ways that can ease glaucoma. These include lowering pressure in the eye that injures the retina, reducing cortisol levels and regulating the production of aqueous humor in the eye (the fluid that fills the space in between the eye’s lens and cornea).
Exercise can also be a great way to reduce stress. Plus, research in Asia demonstrates that aerobic exercise – things like running, walking, dancing, swimming, etc. – can help reduce problems with dry eye.8
The moral of this story is to pay closer attention to your eye health. Don’t wait until you experience dry eye or weakening vision to start reducing your stress levels and getting more DHA in your diet. Because, in some cases, once vision is lost it’s not coming back. What’s more, exercising, reducing stress, and increasing your levels of DHA will dramatically improve your health in other ways, too. So, not just your eyes but your body will thank you.