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Eat Well: Dry eyes? The cure could be in your food, says Colorado Springs eye doctor

June 12, 2018 Updated: June 12, 2018 at 9:36 am
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photo - Sandra Young, author of "Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health" and Heal Your Dry Eyes: Nutrition & Recipes,"  is a doctor of optometry who lives in Monument.

Courtsey photo
Sandra Young, author of "Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health" and Heal Your Dry Eyes: Nutrition & Recipes," is a doctor of optometry who lives in Monument. Courtsey photo 

Sandra Young, author of "Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health" and an optometrist who lives in Monument, has antidotes aplenty for people with vision problems.

As someone who's never had good vision, I love her books, eye health information and delicious recipes. As the saying goes, "We are what we eat."

When we met in 2016, Young talked about dry eyes, a problem of mine that has worsened.

"You're not alone," she said. "Especially since we live at high altitude in an arid climate, many experience itchy, red, teary eyes, symptoms of dry eyes."

In April, she released her second cookbook, "Heal Your Dry Eyes: Nutrition & Recipes," a guidebook to all things dry eye.

"Besides nutrition, I discuss home remedies, tips for more comfortable travel and how to have a productive discussion with your eye doctor," she said.

I couldn't wait to delve into it. Yes, you need to dig through heavy scientific research to get to the root of diet and dry eye health. But as she did with her first book, Young has made it understandable for the scientifically challenged without dumbing down the information.

She long has recommended sea buckthorn juice for healthy eyes.

"I have to let you know, it tastes awful," she said. "But the sea buckthorn berry is a superfood powerhouse for overall eye health and wellness. It's a wonderful source for omega-7 fatty acids."

Young long has touted the importance of omega-3 fatty acids balanced with omega-6 fatty acids, as well as the vitamin A family, vitamins C and E, and zinc. But omega-7 fatty acids were new to me.

Palmitoleic acid omega-7 fatty acids are also found in macdamia nut oil.

"These fatty acids are not common in the diet but have had promising results in recent studies for those suffering with dry eye," she writes.

"In a Finnish study, oral consumption of sea buckthorn oil was associated with decreased symptoms of burning and redness. Also, there was a beneficial effect on tear film concentration (osmolarity).

"For dry eye support, purchase sea buckthorn juice made from both the pulp and seed oil," she said. "It comes in a large white bottle in natural food stores. Use it in smoothies to hide the flavor."

That's advice worth following because it does taste awful. I had choked down two bottles' worth of doses sans smoothies, and I thought it relieved my dry, red eyes. Now I'm putting the juice in Young's very tasty smoothie recipe. Much better.

If you're like the more than 26 million Americans affected by dry eyes, according to Young, you may want to check out her new cookbook. It's only available digitally, on Amazon and B&N.com, and has been enjoying a top spot for new books on Kindle.

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