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EYE DISORDERS

 

Many disorders of the eyes can be helped by consuming the right foods and nutrients the eye requires to function correctly. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to many different eye problems, especially in the elderly, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Losing the eye sight can be one of the most debilitating and devastating experiences which is why it is important to know what foods and nutrients can protect against this.

 

Diabetes is one disease that can seriously affect the retina of the eye and should be monitored carefully. For natural remedies and ways to avoid diabetes see the Diabetes page.

 

Eyelids and tears

 

The eyelids play a key role in protecting the eyes. They help spread moisture (tears) over the surface of the eyes when they close (for example, while blinking); thus, they help prevent the eyes from becoming dry. The eyelids also provide a mechanical barrier against injury, closing reflexively when an object comes too close to the eye. The reflex is triggered by the sight of an approaching object, the touch of an object on the surface of the eye or the eyelashes being exposed to wind or small particles such as dust or sand.


Lachrymal glands


These produce the lachrymal fluid (tears), which moisten the surface of the eye, lubricate eyelids and wash away foreign bodies. Tears contain lysosomes, which are capable of breaking up bacteria and foreign bodies. Tears are a salty fluid that continuously bathes the surface of the eye to keep it moist. This fluid also contains antibodies that help protect the eye from infection. The lachrymal (tear) glands are located near the outer corner of the eye. The fluid flows over the eye and exits through two small openings in the eyelids (lachrymal ducts); these openings lead to the nasolacrimal duct, a channel that empties into the nose.

 

Dehydration

 

Sunken eyes and dark under eye circles are signs of dehydration so drink plenty of bottled-at-source mineral water that will avoid the chorine and fluoride in tap water and provide extra essential minerals. Coconut water and pineapple juice can also help to provide the electrolytes required. Alcohol and caffeine act as a diuretics and can cause dehydration which aggravate dry eye syndrome.

 

Heavy metals

 

Contamination in the body, of heavy metals such as mercury, can cause symptoms of brain fog and fatigue associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, MS and other age related brain as well as eye degeneration. Another heavy metal, cadmium, can depress some immune functions by reducing resistance to bacteria, viruses and yeasts. It may also increase cancer risk, for the lungs and prostate. Cadmium toxicity has been implicated in generating prostate enlargement, possibly by interfering with zinc absorption. This means that cadmium can also affect the bones because copper, together with zinc improves the absorption of vitamin D, the vitamin which aids in the absorption of calcium. Cadmium toxicity has been known to cause bone and joint aches and pains. Long term cadmium exposure can also lead to cancer, hypertension, heart and kidney disease, emphysema and anaemia.

 

Cadmium becomes concentrated in the eyes and can lead to vision problems which is why smoking tobacco should be avoided especially by those with any eye issues. One packet of cigarettes contains about 20 mcg. of cadmium or about 1 mcg. per cigarette. About 30 percent of that goes into the lungs and is absorbed and the remaining 70 percent goes into the atmosphere to be inhaled by others or to contaminate the environment. With long-term smoking, the risk of cadmium toxicity is increased. Though most of it is eliminated, a little bit is stored every day. Marijuana may also concentrate cadmium, so regular smoking of cannabis may also be a risk factor for toxicity from this metal. Reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking tobacco and cannabis plus consuming zinc rich foods can help reduce cadmium toxicity and address vitamin D and calcium deficiency. For the highest natural sources See Zinc.

 

There is concern that the synthesising of some vitamins can leave traces of heavy metals which are detectable in the final product. Over the last decade a number of manufactured nutrient supplements, from individual vitamins to whey proteins, have been tested and traces of a number of heavy metals have been detected. As mandatory product testing is not enforced it is impossible to determine which vitamins may contain these heavy metals, and which do not. It is for this reason that synthetic forms of vitamins are not recommended, as heavy metals are linked to  brain and eye degeneration, liver toxicity and genetic mutations and could lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. It is always best to consume natural foods rich in the vitamins and minerals required rather than synthetic versions.
 

For ways to naturally eliminate these toxins from the body see Heavy metals.

 

 

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The human eye

Eye diagram Nat H Hawes Nature Cures

See the A-Z of eye disorders below.

Natural foods and remedies for healthy eyes

Raw juice therapy can successfully treat many eye conditions and help to relieve and prevent others. The best organic natural foods to juice or make smoothies from are: apricot, berries, carrot, celery, parsley, plums, spinach and tomato. The raw juice of carrots, celery, parsley and sweet potato is very valuable as nourishment for the optic system.

Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum, nightshade family) There are compounds in bell peppers that protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness in the elderly.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, blueberry) Contains nutrients that protect eyes from eyestrain or fatigue and can improve circulation to the eyes. When British Royal Air Force pilots during World War II ate bilberry preserves before night missions and discovered that their night vision improved afterwards, this herb was investigated and found to be very beneficial for the eyes. Bilberry works by improving the microcirculation and regeneration of retinal purple, a substance required for good eyesight. It is believed that this property is related to the high amount of proanthocyanidins, a type of flavonoid that tends to prevent capillary fragility and strengthen the capillaries which nourish the eyes.

Other properties appear to assist in thinning the blood and stimulating the release of vasodilators. Anthocyanin, a natural antioxidant, also lowers blood pressure, reduces clotting and improves blood supply to the nervous system. Anthocyanins support and enhance the health of collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes, thus aiding in the development of strong healthy capillaries that can carry vital nutrients to eye muscles and nerves. Bilberry has long been a remedy for poor vision and "night blindness." Clinical tests have indicated that oral administration of bilberry tends to improve visual accuracy in healthy people and can help those with eye disorders such as pigmentosa, retinitis, glaucoma, and myopia.

Eye bright is so named because it has powerful antibacterial properties and nutrients that can help with many eye disorders including including age-related macular degeneration, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), bloodshot or strained eyes, cataracts, conjunctivitis (pink eye), ophthalmia (severe inflammation of the eye), styes and weeping eyes.

Fennel consumed raw or as a tea or used as eyewash can help to treat cataracts and glaucoma.

Gingko biloba is a natural remedy for eye and central nervous system disorders as it has properties that act as a selective cerebro-vascular dilator. This enhances circulation and increases blood flow at the back of the eye and can help to protect against and treat glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Holy basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of holy basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.

Mangos are very rich in vitamin A which is very important for eye health. They are also a great source of the two antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the eyes from  ultraviolet rays in sunlight which can be harmful to the eyes.

Maqui berry is a 'super berry' from the Chile and Argentinean regions of South America which contains the highest number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds than any other known natural food. Regular consumption can protect against age related macular degeneration and improve the health of the eyes.

Milk thistle contains a component called silymarin that supports the liver and is beneficial to the eyes. The liver is related to the eyes because fat soluble vitamins and glutathione are stored there and are responsible for helping repair eye damage. Silymarin can also inhibit aldose reductase which causes sugar deposition in the eyes of diabetics by fighting free radicals and reducing sugar levels in the eyes.

Plums and prunes: Adding plums or prunes to the daily diet with other fruits is beneficial and protective against age related macular degeneration.

Pumpkin seeds: A handful a day will protect the lens and retina of the eyes.

Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients which have anti oxidant properties which are very good for ocular health, as they protect eyes from damages caused by free radicals (oxidants), such as macular degeneration, age related weakening of vision, cataract etc. In addition, it contains very good amount of vitamin A, alpha carotene and beta carotenes, all of which are essential for a good ocular health.

Saffron: Studies have shown that individuals with early age-related macular degeneration improved in their functioning after just three months ingesting 20 grams of saffron everyday.

Sea blackthorn berries have powerful properties that can treat dry eye syndrome and protect the eyes from other conditions.

Swede consumed regularly can help to reduce the risk of cataract formation.

Sweet potato: Regular consumption of sweet potatoes (three times a week) can improve the health of the eyes due to the exceedingly rich content of vitamin A.

Nutrients required for eye health

Anthocyanins support and enhance the health of collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes, thus aiding in the development of strong healthy capillaries that can carry vital nutrients to eye muscles and nerves.

Beta-carotene is the deep green, yellow, orange and red pigment that gives vegetables and fruits their rich colours. The name beta-carotene comes from the Greek beta and Latin carota (carrot). Beta-carotene, also known as a pro-vitamin A, is an essential component as the human body converts it into vitamin A which is essential for the health of the eyes. It is also a powerful antioxidant that has been established in inhibiting the growth of many pre-cancerous tumours.

NOTE: Eat foods rich in beta-carotene with fatty foods like avocado, nuts, oily fish, seeds and virgin cold-pressed coconut, olive, rapeseed, rice bran and other plant oils to enable absorption because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.

Highest sources of beta-carotene in micrograms per 100 grams

  1. Chilli pepper and paprika 26162 µg

  2. Sun dried chilli peppers 14844 µg

  3. Sweet potatoes 11509 µg

  4. Kale 8823 µg

  5. Carrots 8332 µg

  6. Pumpkin 6940 µg

  7. Romaine lettuce 5226 µg

  8. Parsley 5054 µg

  9. Marjoram 4806 µg

  10. Sage 4806 µg

  11. Butternut squash 4570 µg

  1. Cress 4150 µg

  2. Coriander 3930 µg

  3. Basil 3142 µg

  4. Broccoli 2720 µg

  5. Chives 2612 µg

  6. Watercress 1914 µg

  7. Leeks 1000 µg

  8. Passion fruit 743 µg

  9. Courgettes 670 µg

  10. Mango 640 µg

  11. Asparagus 604 µg

NOTE: One µg is one microgram.

Bioflavonoids, or vitamin P as they are also known, are very useful in the prevention and treatment of cataracts due to their ability to increase the strength of the capillaries (blood vessels),  regulate their permeability and promote circulation. Quercetin is a very highly concentrated form of bioflavonoids derived from citrus fruits.  In citrus fruits, bioflavonoids are found in the white pith material just beneath citrus peel.

Natural sources of bioflavonoids

Cryptoxanthin refers to a substance composed of two related molecules, alpha-cryptoxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin that protect the cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. They are two of the carotenoids that the body can use to manufacture vitamin A which protects the eyes. They also reduce the risk of inflammatory polyarthritis, lung cancer (especially in smokers) and  rheumatoid arthritis.

Natural sources of cryptoxanthins

Alfalfa, apples, apricots, avocado, basil, beef,  bell peppers, black beans, broccoli, caraway seeds, carrots, chicken, chilli peppers, chokeberries, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, corn, cucumber, dandelion greens, egg yolk, grapefruit, green beans, kumquats, lemon rind, mango, marjoram, mung beans, mustard, nutmeg, olives, orange rind, oregano, organ meats, papaya, paprika, parsley, passion fruit, peppercorns, persimmons fruit, peaches, plums, prickly pears, prunes, pumpkin, raspberries, sage, split peas, soya beans, squash, tangerines, thyme, turkey and watermelon.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect the retina from damage caused by the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and high-energy visible (HEV) light. Prolonged exposure to UV and HEV rays may increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. Zeaxanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. Lutein and zeaxanthin also reduce the risk of cataracts later in life. These antioxidants also have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals and are found together in the same foods.

NOTE: Lutein and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble, so eating foods such as avocado, coconut oil, fish, nut, olive or seed oils at the same time will make them easier to absorb and four times more effective.

Natural sources of lutein and zeaxanthin

Lycopene reduces the risk of macular degeneration.

Potassium

One of the many nutrients that is essential for human life is potassium.  Potassium is an electrolyte which means it is a mineral with an electric charge that is present in blood and other fluids in the body. This mineral is necessary for growth, muscle function, electrical activity of the heart, nerve impulse transmission and acid-base balance. Potassium is one of the important components that comprise tear film. Tear film includes electrolytes, one of which is potassium. One of the first-line treatments prescribed for dry eye is the use of lubricating drops. It is often recommended to choose a drop with an electrolyte composition closest to that of natural tears. Potassium in addition to bicarbonate appears to be one the most important of these electrolytes in tear film.

Several research studies have demonstrated that potassium levels have a direct impact on tear film. Researchers have found that lower levels of potassium negatively affect tear-film break-up time and also are integral to the maintenance of corneal epithelium. Another study on animal subjects showed that potassium is necessary for the maintenance of normal corneal thickness. Each of these discoveries highlights the importance of potassium to the optimal health of the corneal surface.

Potassium can be lacking in the diet due to intense farming techniques. Intensive physical activity, old age, drinking alcohol and taking some medications can also cause the body to have lower levels of potassium in which case at least one of the following potassium rich foods should be consumed daily.

NOTE: Potassium-rich foods should be restricted during acute renal (kidney) failure and Addison’s disease.

Highest sources of potassium in milligrams per 100 grams

  1. Dried basil, chervil, coriander, dill, parsley 4240 mg

  2. Sun dried tomatoes 3427 mg

  3. Turmeric 2,525 mg

  4. Raw cocoa 2509 mg

  5. Whey powder 2289 mg

  6. Paprika and chilli powder 2280 mg

  7. Yeast extract 2100 mg

  8. Soya beans 1,797 mg

  9. Cumin 1,788 mg

  10. Fennel seeds 1,694 mg

  11. Rice bran 1,485 mg

  12. Black strap molasses 1464 mg

  13. Kidney beans 1,406

  14. Dried soya beans 1364 mg

  15. Spirulina 1,363 mg

  16. Coriander seeds 1,267 mg

  17. Apricots dried 1,162 mg

  18. Rabbit stewed 1026 mg

  19. Pistachio nuts 1007 mg

  20. Squash and pumpkin seeds 919 mg

  21. Chick peas 875 mg

  22. Sunflower seeds 850 mg

  23. Raisins 749 mg

  24. Prunes 732 mg

  25. Almonds 705 mg

  26. Dates 696 mg

  27. Whelks 694 mg

  28. Dried figs 680 mg

  29. Cashew nuts 660 mg

  30. Peanut butter 649 mg

  31. Clams 628 mg

  32. Watermelon seeds 648 mg

  33. Pine nuts 597 mg

  34. Chestnuts 592 mg

  35. Spinach raw 558 mg

  36. Anchovies 544 mg

  37. Baked potatoes 535 mg

  38. Coriander leaves 521 mg

  39. Mackerel 520 mg

  40. Breadfruit 490 mg

  41. Avocados 485 mg

  42. Sweet potato baked 475 mg

  43. Sesame seeds 468 mg

  44. Spinach boiled 466 mg

  45. Walnuts 441mg

  46. Soya sauce 435 mg

  47. Black beans 431 mg

  48. Cinnamon 431 mg

  49. Pork 423 mg

  50. Potatoes 421 mg

  51. Guava 417 mg

  52. Fennel 414 mg

  53. Bulgur wheat 410 mg

  54. Garlic 401 mg

  55. Brussel sprouts (juiced raw) 389 mg

  56. Lentils cooked 369 mg

  57. Salmon 363 mg

  58. Bananas 358 mg

  59. Coconut 356 mg

  60. Nutmeg 350 mg

  61. Passion fruit 348 mg

  1. Green chilli peppers 340 mg

  2. Sweet potatoes 337 mg

  3. Venison 335 mg

  4. Watercress 330 mg

  5. Carrots 320 mg

  6. Bass 328 mg

  7. Red chilli peppers 322 mg

  8. Black currants 322 mg

  9. Mushrooms 318 mg

  10. Brussel sprouts boiled 317 mg

  11. Kiwi fruit 316 mg

  12. Lamb 310 mg

  13. Beef lean 318 mg

  14. Cannellini beans 307 mg

  15. Sweet corn 287 mg

  16. Bread bread 285 mg

  17. Butternut squash baked 284 mg

  18. Soda bread 266 mg

  19. Coconut milk 263 mg

  20. Apricots 259 mg

  21. Coconut water 250 mg

  22. Peas 240 mg

  23. Sweet potato boiled 230 mg

  24. Chicken 223 mg

  25. Goat's milk 204 mg

  26. Orange juice 200 mg

  27. Grapes 191 mg

  28. Peaches 190 mg

  29. Oranges 181 mg

  30. Clementine's 177 mg

  31. Bell pepper green raw 175 mg

  32. Cabbage 170 mg

  33. Bell peppers green (boiled) 166 mg

  34. Blackberries 162 mg

  35. Plums 157 mg

  36. Raspberries 151 mg

  37. Milk semi-skimmed 150 mg

  38. Onions 146 mg

  39. Cauliflower boiled 142 mg

  40. Yoghurt 141 mg

  41. Lemon 138 mg

  42. Grapefruit 135 mg

  43. Butternut squash boiled 133 mg

  44. Milk (whole) 132 mg

  45. Sour dough bread 128 mg

  46. Eggs 126 mg

  47. White bread 115 mg

  48. Balsamic vinegar 112 mg

  49. Apples 107 mg

  50. Cottage cheese 104 mg

  51. Blueberries 77 mg

  52. Apple cider vinegar mg

  53. Oats 61 mg

  54. Cous cous 58 mg

  55. Honey 52 mg

  56. Brown rice 43 mg

  57. Butter 24 mg

  58. Pasta 24 mg

  59. White rice 20 mg

  60. Tofu 20 mg

Rutin can prevent and treat glaucoma and cataracts as this flavonoid acts on the circulatory system to strengthen blood vessels, especially the tiny capillaries in the eyes. Foods rich in rutin should be consumed along with foods rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and hesperidin.

Vitamin A is the most important nutrient vital for eye health. Preformed vitamin A is found in foods from animal sources, including dairy products, fish, and meat (especially liver). The body can also manufacture vitamin A from certain carotenoids also known as pro-formed vitamin A. By far the most important pro-vitamin A carotenoid is beta-carotene; others are alpha-carotene and cryptoxanthin. The body converts these plant pigments into vitamin A.  Yellow and orange foods like pumpkins and carrots are good sources of alpha and beta-carotene. These also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, as do sweet red peppers.

NOTE: Excess consumption of carotenoids can cause a yellow/orange colour to the skin which is harmless and will disappear when carotenoids are reduced in the diet.

Both pro-vitamin A and preformed vitamin A is metabolised into retinal and retinoic acid, the active forms of vitamin A. Other carotenoids found in food, such as lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, are not converted into vitamin A but are still important for eye health.

Low levels of vitamin A can cause depression and lead to eye problems with dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea, night blindness as well as poor growth. Dry itchy eyes that tire easily are normally a warning of vitamin A levels being low. If the deficiency continues, the cornea can ulcerate and permanent blindness can follow.

NOTE: High levels of vitamin A consumption can cause birth defects so the foods below are best limited during pregnancy and supplements containing vitamin A should be avoided completely by all.

Natural sources of preformed vitamin A

  • Beef

  • Cheese

  • Crab

  • Cuttlefish

  • Egg yolks

  • Fish and fish eggs

  • Game birds

  • Lamb

  • Lobster

  • Milk (full cream)

  • Organ meats

  • Rabbit

  • Shellfish

  • Venison

 

NOTE:  Adequate levels of zinc are needed to transport vitamin A to the retina.

 

Highest sources of zinc in milligrams per 100 grams

 

  • Oysters 78.6 mg

  • Chlorella 71 mg

  • Wheat germ 16.7 mg

  • Beef 12.3 mg

  • Calf's liver 11.9 mg

  • Hemp seeds 11.5 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 10.3 mg

  • Sesame and watermelon seeds 10.2 mg

  • Bamboo shoots, endives and gourds 9 mg

  • Chervil (herb) 8.8 mg

  • Lamb 8.7 mg

  • Venison 8.6 mg

  • Alfalfa seeds (sprouted), amaranth leaves, Crimini mushrooms, Irish moss and tea 8 mg

  • Crab 7.6 mg

  • Lobster 7.3 mg

  • Agave, basil, broccoli, buffalo, elk, emu, oats, ostrich, spinach and turkey 7 mg

  • Cocoa powder 6.8 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.8 mg

  • Asparagus, chicken livers, laver seaweed, mushrooms, parsley and rice bran 5.7 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.6 mg

  • Pork 5.1 mg

  • Jute (herb), lemon grass, mung beans, Portobello mushrooms, radishes and shiitake mushrooms 5 mg

  • Agar seaweed, butterbur, cauliflower, chicory, Chinese cabbage, chives, coriander, green beans, lentils, lettuce, okra, rocket, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes and wasabi (yellow) 3.4 mg

  • Peanuts 3.3 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 3.1 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 2.9 mg

  • Anchovies and rabbit 2.4 mg

  • Cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno peppers, , kidney beans, navy beans, spirulina and turnip greens 2 mg

  • Mussels 1.6 mg

  • Arrowroot, artichokes (globe), beetroot, bell peppers, black eyed peas, borage, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chilli peppers, courgettes, dandelion greens, garlic, horseradish, kale, kelp, mustard greens, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkin, turnips, Swede, sweet potato, tomatoes (red),  wakame (seaweed), watercress and winged beans 1.2 mg

Vitamin B8, also known as adenylic acid or inositol, is a water-soluble fatty lipid that is required by the body for the formation of healthy cells and is synthesised by the body inside the intestines, in the presence of bacteria. It assists the other B vitamins to function more effectively and plays an important part in the health of cell membranes especially the specialised cells in the brain, bone marrow, eyes and intestines. A good concentration of inositol is found in the lens of the eye as well as the heart and inositol is closely related to choline. The two work together to make neurotransmitters and the fatty substances for cell membranes that are responsible for regulating the contents of the cells to enable the cells to function correctly.  It also is involved in the transmission of messages between neural cells and the transport of fats within cells. Its most important role seems to be in the central nervous system, where it serves to help transmit messages along neural pathways.

Deficiency of vitamin B8 can be caused by alcohol and coffee which block absorption of inositol. Antibiotics and many other medications and recreational drugs block B vitamins and vital co-factors like inositol from being absorbed. Stress and intense exercise uses up all nutrients (especially the B-group vitamins and their co-factors) at a much faster rate.

Highest sources of vitamin B8 (200 mg plus per 100 grams)

  1. Grapefruit

  2. Oranges

  3. Mandarin oranges

  4. Cantaloupe

  5. Kidney beans

  6. English peas

  7. Stone ground wheat

  8. Swede (kohlrabi)

Highest sources of vitamin B8 (100 - 200 mg per 100 grams)

  1. Green beans

  2. Butter beans

  3. Split peas

  4. Black-eyed peas

  5. Limes

  6. Blackberries

  7. Artichokes

  8. Okra

  9. Kiwi fruit

  10. Nectarines

Highest sources of vitamin B8 (10 - 100 mg per 100 grams)

  1. Mango

  2. Prunes

  3. Potatoes

  4. Pumpkin

  5. Soya beans

  6. Carrots

  7. Peaches

  8. Pears

  9. Watermelon

  10. Cherries

  11. Apricots

  12. Squash

  13. White kidney beans

  14. Pinto beans

  15. Butter beans

  16. Aubergine

  17. Bread fruit

  18. Brussel sprouts

  19. Cabbage

  20. Asparagus

  21. Peppers

  22. Collard greens

  23. Tomatoes

  24. Courgettes

Vitamin C is a biological reducing agent that is linked to the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It is also responsible for  strengthening the walls of the capillaries and boosts the immune system to help fight infections.

High consumption of foods rich in vitamin C have shown no toxicity dangers but high supplemental doses of vitamin C can increase levels of uric acid in the urine, because vitamin C can be broken down into uric acid. In older people with diabetes, vitamin C in amounts greater than 300 mg per day increases the risk of death from heart disease therefore it is wiser to choose foods rich in vitamin C rather than supplements.

Highest sources of vitamin C in milligrams per 100 grams

  1. Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  2. Camu camu berries 532 mg

  3. Rosehips 426 mg

  4. Green chillies 242.5 mg

  5. Guavas 228.3 mg

  6. Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  7. Black currants 181 mg

  8. Thyme 160.01 mg

  9. Red chillies 143.7 mg

  10. Drumstick pods 141 mg

  11. Kale 120 mg

  12. Jalapeno peppers 118.6 mg

  13. Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  14. Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  15. Broccoli 89 mg

  16. Brussel sprouts 85 mg

  17. Cloves, saffron 81 mg

  18. Chilli pepper 76 mg

  19. Mustard greens 70 mg

  20. Cress 69 mg

  1. Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  2. Swede 62 mg

  3. Basil 61 mg

  4. Papaya 60 mg

  5. Rosemary 61 mg

  6. Strawberries 58 mg

  7. Chives 58 mg

  8. Oranges 53.2 mg

  9. Lemons 53 mg

  10. Pineapple 48 mg

  11. Cauliflower 48 mg

  12. Kumquats 43.9 mg

  13. Watercress 43 mg

  14. Wasabi root 41.9 mg

  15. Kidney bean sprouts 38.7 mg

  16. Melon 36.7 mg

  17. Elderberries 36 mg

  18. Breadfruit 29 mg

  19. Coriander 27 mg

Vitamin D deficiency can cause dry eye syndrome and increase the risk for age-related macular degeneration as it has an important role in the protection of the eyes. More than 75% of the world's population are deficient in vitamin D and unaware of it. However, this figure may be much higher as testing vitamin D levels is not done on a regular basis, if at all, in most people. Vitamin D is produced by cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to sunshine. It is then stored in the fatty tissues of the body for between 30-60 days. From October there is often not enough to last through until the sun reaches its optimal strength again around April leading to a deficiency unless extra vitamin D rich foods are consumed. Even in the summertime, individuals who cover their skin, wear sunscreens and work all day inside buildings can be lacking in vitamin D. Those with dark skin have less ability to produce vitamin D as over 90% of the sun rays cannot penetrate the skin This is also applicable to those that maintain a deep suntan over a period of time.

Ten to fifteen minutes of midday sunshine on bare skin can  provide all the body needs. It is not the same as sunbathing; the skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight a few days a week. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunshine indoors through a window does not produce vitamin D.  Over exposure of the suns rays can be dangerous for the skin but no exposure at all can be equally detrimental to the health.

A poorly functioning liver will affect vitamin D levels and excessive alcohol can contribute to this as vitamin D gets stored in the liver. Healthy kidneys are rich with vitamin D receptors and play a major role in turning vitamin D into its active form. After the age of 50 the body becomes less proficient at converting the sun's rays to vitamin D and the kidneys become less efficient at making this process take place. It is important to check levels every six months over the age of 50, especially from November to April.

NOTE: If vitamin D supplements of 40,000 IU are taken per day for a couple of months or longer, or a very large one-time dose is ingested, the liver produces too much of a chemical called 25(OH)D which causes a condition called hypercalcaemia which is high levels of calcium in the blood and muscles and can lead to irreversible kidney damage. It is therefore wiser to increase the intake of vitamin D rich foods instead.

It is difficult for vegetarians to gain sufficient vitamin D as there are few plant foods that provide it. However certain mushrooms listed below and hemp seeds are two ways of gaining extra in their diet.

Highest sources of vitamin D per serving

  1. Krill oil - 1 teaspoon: 1000 IU

  2. Eel - 85 g or 3 oz: 792 IU

  3. Maitake mushrooms - 70 g: 786 IU

  4. Rainbow trout - 85 g or 3 oz: 540 IU

  5. Cod liver oil - 1 teaspoon: 440 IU

  6. Mackerel - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  7. Salmon - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  8. Halibut - 85 g or 3 oz: 196 IU

  9. Tuna - 85 g or 3 oz: 228 IU

  10. Sardines - 85 g or 3 oz: 164 IU

  11. Chanterelle mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 155 IU

  12. Raw milk - 1 glass or 8 oz: 98 IU

  13. Egg yolk - 1 large: 41 IU

  14. Caviar - 28g or 1 oz: 33 IU

  15. Hemp seeds - 100 g or 3.5 oz: 22 IU

  16. Portabella mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 6 IU

NOTE: One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms.

Vitamin E

External remedies

Cucumber slices or cold teabags placed on closed eyes can reduce swelling and puffiness.


A-Z of eye disorders and symptoms

A

Accommodative disorder (double vision, eye strain, squinting)

Acute retinal necrosis (red eyes, eye pain and hazy or blurred vision) This is a condition that often causes retinal detachment and vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration (can cause gradual vision loss)

Albinism (lazy eye or amblyopia, involuntary eye movements or nystagmas, light sensitivity) This is a congenital disorder characterised by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.

Allergy (itchy eyes, sticky eyes, red or pink eye)

Anisocoria (pupils different sizes)

Amblyopia (lazy eye, squinting) This is a vision development disorder in which an eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity, even with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Amblyopia begins during infancy and early childhood. In most cases, only one eye is affected.

Aniridia (reduction in the sharpness of vision, increased sensitivity to light).  This is the absence of the iris, usually involving both eyes. It can be congenital or caused by a penetrating injury. Isolated aniridia is a congenital disorder which is not limited to a defect in iris development, but is a panocular condition with macular and optic nerve hypoplasia, cataract, and corneal changes.

Anisometropia (differing lens prescriptions in each eye)

Anophthalmos (distorted depth perception, peripheral vision problem)

Arcus (white ring around iris)

Argyll Robertson pupil (small pupils, pupil unresponsive to light)

Asteroid hyalosis

Astigmatism (eye strain, double or distorted vision, shadow on letters) Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregular cornea, astigmatism causes blur at all distances.

B

Band keratopathy (foreign body sensation)

Bell's palsy (temporary condition causing face muscles to weaken or become paralysed)

Birdshot retinochoroidopathy (blurred  vision, sensitivity to light, floaters, night blindness) In most people, it affects both eyes and causes white or yellow lesions scattered around the retina that can damage the retina and affect the vitreous.

Blepharitus (caused by bacteria infection - foreign body sensation, burning pain, dry eyes, sticky eyes, crusty eyelid, eyelash particles, painful eyelid, puffy eyelids) Blepharitis may produce the feeling that something is in the eye. The eyes and lids may itch, burn, and become red. The eyelid may swell and some of the lashes may fall out. The eyes may become red, teary and sensitive to bright light. A crust may form and stick tenaciously to the edges of the lid; when the crust is removed, it may leave a bleeding surface. During sleep, dried secretions make the lids sticky. Blepharitis tends to recur and stubbornly resist treatment. It's inconvenient and unattractive but usually not destructive. Occasionally, it can result in a loss of the eyelashes, scarring of the lid margins and even damage to the cornea. Treatment consists of keeping the eyelids clean by washing them twice a day with baby shampoo. Moisturising the eyelids with cold pressed coconut oil can help clear infection and prevent dryness. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment, such as erythromycin or sulfacetamide or an oral antibiotic, such as tetracycline. When the person's skin is also affected with seborrheic dermatitis, the face and scalp must be treated as well.

Blepharochalasis (droopy eyelid)

Blepharoconjunctivitis (sticky eyes, burning pain, dry eyes, pain around eyes, red or pink eye)

Blepharospasm (frequent blinking or a twitching eyelid) This is an uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the upper eyelid. Most people develop a minor and temporary eyelid twitch at some point in their lives and the cause may be through excessive caffeine, fatigue or stress. Sometimes it can be caused by blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), conjunctivitis, dry eyes or light sensitivity. Rarely it can be a sign of a brain or nerve disorder, such as Bell's palsy, dystonia, Parkinson's disease or some treatments for Parkinson's disease or tourette's syndrome. Some medications can also cause it such as those used in the treatment of psychosis and epilepsy.

Blurred vision (distorted depth perception). Blurred vision has many causes, from fatigue and eyestrain to serious eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Branch retinal vein occlusion (blockage of small veins in retina)

C

Canaliculitis (discharge from eye, red or pink eye)

Cataracts (distorted colours, white or cloudy spot on eye)

Cavernous sinus problem (bulging eye, red or pink eye)

Cellulitis (bacterial infection can affect both eyes and skin) For natural remedies see Cellulitis

Chalazion (caused by enlarged oil-producing gland in eyelid - painful bump on eyelid) A chalazion is an enlargement of a long, thin oil gland in the eyelid that results from an obstruction of the gland opening at the edge of the eyelid. At first, a chalazion looks and feels like a stye: swollen eyelid, pain and irritation. However, after a few days the symptoms disappear, leaving a round, painless swelling in the eyelid that grows slowly for the first week. A red or grey area may develop underneath the eyelid. Most chalazions disappear without treatment after a few months. If hot compresses are applied several times a day, they may disappear sooner. If they remain after six weeks, a doctor can drain them or simply inject a corticosteroid.

Chemosis (swelling eye)

Central serous retinopathy (fluid builds up under the retina and distorts vision)

Choroidal neovascular membranes (blood vessels grow beneath retina and disrupt vision - associated with serious eye diseases)

Cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMV retinitis) (a serious viral infection of retina)

Coloboma (iris defect, cleft eyelid)

Colour blindness (distorted colours)

Computer vision syndrome (eye strain, dry eyes, burning pain, red or pink eye)

Conjunctivitis (red or pink eye, sticky eyes, dry eyes, discharge from eye, itchy eyes, burning pain)

Contact lens problems (discharge from eye, itchy eyes, burning pain, red or pink eye)

Convergence insufficiency (eye strain, double vision)

Corneal abrasion (red or pink eye)

Corneal dystrophy (distorted depth perception, double vision, foreign body sensation, red or pink eye, burning pain, poor night vision, light sensitivity, shadow on letters)

Corneal oedema (foreign body sensation, white or cloudy spot on eye)

Corneal erosion (foreign body sensation)

Corneal opacity (white or cloudy spot on eye)

Corneal ulcer (red or pink eye, white or cloudy spot on eye)

Learn about having corneal graft surgery.

Cranial nerve palsy (dry eyes, crossed eyes, double vision, distorted depth perception, infrequent blinking, burning, limited eye and/or eyelid  movement ability, eyes point in different directions, dilated pupils, pupil unresponsive to light)

Cytomegalovirus retinitis (blind spots or blurred vision, floaters and flashes, loss of peripheral vision) Caused by an infection of the Cytomegalovirus. This virus is a common source of infection in humans and generally lays dormant in the body without producing symptoms. While most people’s immune systems are able to fend it off, those with weakened immune systems are vulnerable to it. It is particularly prevalent in people with HIV/AIDS. It must be treated promptly as it can lead to blindness.

D

Dacryoadenitis (dry eyes)

Dacryocystitis (red or pink eye, sticky eye, discharge from eye)

Dacryostenosis (sticky eye, discharge from eye)

Dermatochalasis (droopy eyelid)

Detached retina See Diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy (double vision, blurred vision near)

Divergence insufficiency (eye strain, double vision)

Double vision (diplopia): Many conditions cause double vision: cataracts, accommodative disorder, astigmatism, cranial nerve palsy, diabetic retinopathy, eye tumour (orbital), Graves' ophthalmology, keratoconus, lens dislocation, myasthenia gravis, ophthalmoplegia, pseudotumor cerebri, stroke, vascular problem, vergence disorder.

Drugs (distorted colours, dry eyes, small pupils, dilated pupils, pupil unresponsive to light)

Dry eye syndrome (dry eyes, red or pink eye, foreign body sensation, itchy eyes, burning pain)

E

Ectropion (eyelid turns out, painful eyelid, red or pink eye)

Epiretinal membrane (a thin sheet of fibrous tissue that develops on the surface of the macula and can cause problems with central vision)

Endophthalmitis (red or pink eye)

Enophthalmos (small eye)

Entropion and ectropion (foreign body sensation, itchy eyes, painful eyelid, red or pink eye) Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid is turned in against the eyeball. Ectropion is a condition in which the eyelid is turned outward and doesn't come in contact with the eyeball. Normally, the upper and lower eyelids close tightly, protecting the eye from damage and preventing tear evaporation. If the edge of one eyelid turns in (entropion), the lashes rub against the eye, which can lead to ulceration and scarring of the cornea. If the edge of one eyelid turns outward (ectropion), the two eyelids can't meet properly, and tears aren't spread over the eyeball. These conditions are more common in older people and in those who have had an eyelid injury that caused scar formation. Both conditions can irritate the eyes, causing tearing and redness. Both can be treated by surgery, if necessary.

Environmental condition (dry eyes, burning pain)

Episcleritis (red or pink eye)

Eyelid inflammation (blepharitis) causes redness and thickening; scales and crusts or shallow ulcers often form on the eyelids, as well. Conditions that may occur with eyelid inflammation include Staphylococcal bacterial infection on the eyelids and in the oil (sebaceous) glands at the edges of the lids, seborrheic dermatitis of the face and scalp or rosacea.

Eyelid swelling: Anything that irritates the eyes can also irritate the eyelids and cause swelling (lid oedema). The most common irritant is an allergy, which can make one or both lids crinkled and swollen. Allergic reactions may be caused by medications instilled into the eyes, such as eye drops; other drugs or cosmetics; or pollen or other particles in the air. Insect stings or bites as well as infections from bacteria, viruses, or fungi can also cause the eyelids to swell. Removing the cause of swelling and applying cold compresses may relieve the swelling. If an allergy is the cause, avoiding the allergen can alleviate the swelling; a doctor may also prescribe drug therapy. If a foreign object such as an insect stinger is lodged in the eyelid, it must be removed.

Eye occlusions (eye strokes)

Eye tumour (bulging eye, iris defect, foreign body sensation, double vision, limited eye and/or eyelid movement ability, pain around eyes, painful eyelid, coloured, white or cloudy spot on eye, red or pink eye) Noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) growths can form on the eyelids. One of the most common types of benign tumor is xanthelasma, a yellow-white, flat growth that consists of fatty material. Xanthelasmas needn't be removed unless their appearance becomes bothersome. Because xanthelasmas may indicate elevated cholesterol levels (especially in young people), a doctor will check the person's cholesterol level. Squamous cell carcinoma and the more common basal cell carcinoma, both cancerous growths, can develop on the eyelid as well as on many other areas of the skin. If a growth on the eyelid doesn't disappear after several weeks, a doctor may perform a biopsy (removal of a specimen and examination under a microscope), and the growth is treated, usually with surgery.

F

Floaters, flashes and distorted spots (can cause shadows and annoying movements of particles in front of the vision) It is usually harmless and untreatable but should be checked to ensure it is not caused by macular and retina problems. Floaters are common and not usually a serious condition but if they increase dramatically it could be a sign of the retina detaching which is an emergency and should be treated immediately.

Foreign body (discharge from eye, red or pink eye and pain)

Fuchs’ dystrophy (progressive eye disease of cornea, causing cells to die, making corneal cells swollen and cloudy). See below more about corneal dystrophy and surgery to correct it. Corneal dystrophy.

Fungal keratitis infection (clouded eye surface, discharge from eye, swelling eye, light sensitivity, red or pink eye) This is an infection of the cornea, often due to improper cleaning of contact lenses or from injury.

G

Giant cell arteritis (reduced blood flow can cause sudden, painless vision loss)

Glaucoma (red or pink eye, bulging eye, pupil unresponsive to light)

Graves' ophthalmology (red or pink eye, bulging eye, double vision, limited eye movement ability)

H

Hay fever (itchy eyes and swollen eyelids) See Hay fever

Hemi-facial spasm  (twitching of the muscles near to the eye) This is a rare neuromuscular disease characterised by irregular, involuntary muscle contractions on one side of the face. may be caused by a blood vessel touching a facial nerve, a facial nerve injury, Bell’s palsy or a tumour or it may not have known a cause. The facial nerve is primarily a motor nerve, meaning it controls muscles that move the eyebrows, close the eyes and move the mouth and lips. The average age of onset is 44 years and occurs slightly more in women. Many people experience twitching of an eye temporarily and this is not usually a serious problem unless it continues and affects the vision. See Twitching eye below.

Herpetic eye disease: Herpes zoster (shingles virus) and the herpes simplex virus type I (cold sores) and type II (genital herpes) can also affect the eyes. Usually it affects the cornea and can be quite painful but it can affect other parts of the eye such as the retina or cause a macular oedema to develop. Treatment is usually steroid eye drops but a healthy immune system from a balanced diet can reduce the severity of the infection. It is important to never touch the eyes after touching sores from an attack of herpes anywhere else on the body. See Herpes for natural remedies.

Heterochromia (eyes different colours)

Higher-order aberrations (HOAs) (vision errors causing poor night vision or double images)

Histiocytosis (bulging eye)

HIV/Aids (susceptible to infections of the eye) See HIV/Aids

Horner's syndrome (small pupils)

Hyperopia (eye strain, squinting, blurred vision near, farsightedness) means people can have poor near vision or blurred vision at all distances.

Hypotony (usually defined as an intraocular pressure of 5 mm Hg or less. This can adversely impact the eye in many ways, including corneal decompensation, accelerated cataract formation, maculopathy and discomfort)

J

Jaundice (yellow eyes caused by liver disease) For natural remedies see Jaundice.

K

Keratitus acanthamoeba (discharge from eye, foreign body sensation)

Keratoconus (double or distorted vision)

L

Lachrymal sac infection Usually, infection of the lachrymal sac (dacryocystitis) results from a blockage of the nasolachrymal duct. The infection makes the area around the sac painful, red, and swollen. The eye becomes red and watery and oozes pus. Slight pressure applied to the sac may push pus through the opening at the inner corner of the eye, near the nose. The person also has a fever. If a mild or recurring infection continues for a long time, most of the symptoms may disappear, with only slight swelling of the area remaining. Sometimes, an infection causes fluid to be retained in the lachrymal sac, and a large fluid-filled sac (mucocele) forms under the skin. Recurring infections may produce a thickened, red area over the sac. An abscess may form and rupture through the skin, creating a passage for drainage. The infection is treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics. Applying frequent warm compresses to the area also helps. If an abscess develops, surgery is performed to open and drain it. For chronic infections, the blocked nasolacrimal duct may be opened with a probe or by surgery. In rare instances, surgical removal of the entire lachrymal sac may be necessary.

Lens dislocation (double vision)

Leukocoria (white or cloudy spot on eye)

Liver spot (coloured spot on eyelid)

Lupus erythematosus (coloured spot on eyelid)

M

Macular degeneration (distorted vision, shadow on letters)

Macular dystrophy (loss of central vision) This is a form of rare, genetic eye disorder that affects the retina in the back of a person's eye.

Macular hole (blurred and distorted central vision) This is a small break in the macula, located in the centre of the eye's light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision needed for reading, driving and seeing fine detail.

Macular oedema (swelling in centre of retina causing small irregular shadow in centre of vision and sometimes lettering appears smaller due to distortion caused by the swelling) Macular oedema causes pressure to increase inside the eye. A dark shadowy spot can be seen in the middle of the eye when looking at light surfaces after closing the eye and when looking at text the type seems smaller in the middle. There a few causes of a macular oedema, herpetic eye disease, caused by the herpes virus, being one of them.

Madarosis (eyelash loss)

Meibomianitis (red or pink eye, dry eyes, burning pain)

Melanosis (coloured or brown spot on eye)

Metamorphopsia (distorted depth perception)

Microphthalmia (small eye)

Migraine (distorted vision, light flashes)

Milia (bump on the eyelid)

Mucormycosis (bulging eye)

Myasthenia gravis (double vision)

Myopia (squinting, blurred distance vision, short sightedness, poor night vision) This means people can see fine up close, but distant objects are a blur.

N

Nasolachrymal duct blockage Blockage of the nasolachrymal duct (dacryostenosis) can result from inadequate development of the nasolachrymal system at birth, a chronic nasal infection, severe or recurring eye infections or fractures of the nasal or facial bones. Blockage can be partial or complete. Blockage caused by an immature nasolachrymal system usually results in an overflow of tears that runs down the cheek (epiphora) from one eye or, rarely, from both eyes in 3- to 12-week-old infants. This type of blockage usually disappears without treatment by the age of 6 months, as the nasolachrymal system develops. Sometimes the blockage resolves faster when parents are taught to milk the duct by gently massaging the area above it with a fingertip.  Regardless of the cause of the blockage, if inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) develops, antibiotic eye drops may be needed. If the blockage doesn't clear up, an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otorhinolaryngologist) or an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) may have to open the duct with a small probe, usually inserted through the duct opening at the corner of the eyelid. Children are given general anaesthesia for this procedure, but adults need only local anaesthesia. If the duct is completely blocked, more extensive surgery may be needed.

Neuroretinitis (distorted colours)

Nevus (bump on eyelid, coloured or brown spot on eye)

Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement) This is constant uncontrolled movement of the eyes that are usually side to side but can also be up and down or in a circular motion and can be caused by albinism.

O

Ocular hypertension (increased eye pressure needs attention as can cause retina detachment)

Ocular migraine (distorted vision, light flashes) For natural remedies see Migraine

Ocular rosacea (inflammation that causes redness, burning and itching of the eyes) For natural remedies see Rosacea

Onchocerciasis (the second leading infectious cause of blindness)

Ophthalmoplegia (double vision, limited eye movement ability)

Optic nerve problems (bulging eye, distorted colours, pupil unresponsive to light)

Optic neuritis and neuropathy (distorted vision, reduced colour vision and pain when the eyes are moved) Inflammation of the optic nerve, caused by damage to and loss of the protective sheath (myelin) surrounding this nerve that is vital for good vision. Can be caused by reduced blood flow or toxic exposure.

Orbital cellulitis (bulging eye, painful eyelid) For natural remedies see Cellulitis

Orbital pseudotumour (bulging eye, pain around eyes)

Opsoclonus (involuntary eye movement)

Overflow tearing (discharge from eye)

P

Papilloma (bump on eye or eyelid, coloured spot on eyelid)

Parinaud dorsal midbrain syndrome (limited eye movement ability, pupil unresponsive to light)

Parkinson's disease (infrequent blinking) For natural remedies see Parkinson's disease.

Pediculosis (coloured spots on eyelid) Infestation of lice or louse on the eyelashes. For natural remedies see Lice.

Peripheral vision loss (tunnel vision) This can have various causes, including glaucoma and anophthalmos. Eye "strokes" (occlusions) that block normal blood flow to the eye's internal structures, including the optic nerve, also can lead to loss of peripheral vision. A stroke or injury also may damage portions of the brain where images are processed, leading to blind spots in the visual field.

Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis (pain in the eyes)  This is a painful eye condition caused by exposure of insufficiently protected eyes to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from either natural ( intense sunlight) or artificial (the electric arc during welding) sources.

Photophobia (squinting, light sensitivity) 

Photopsia (brief flashes of light in the peripheral vision)

Pinguecula (bump on eye, yellow, white or cloudy spot on eye)

Posner-Schlossman syndrome (high eye pressure and mild inflammation) This is an uncommon inflammatory eye condition that usually affects one eye at a time and  typically affects young to middle-aged adults.

Presbyopia (squinting, eye strain, blurred vision near) This means difficulty seeing close up for people 40 and older.

Pseudotumour cerebri (double vision)

Pterygium (red or pink eye, bump on eye, foreign body sensation, itchy eyes, white or cloudy spot on eye)

Ptosis (drooping eyelid, small eye)

R

Retinal detachment (a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters and/or light flashes in the eye or the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision) This occurs when the thin lining at the back of the eye begins to pull away from the blood vessels that supply it and is a medical emergency as if left untreated can result in irreversible blindness.

Retinal tear (light flashes)

Retinitis (blind spots or blurred vision, floaters and flashes, loss of peripheral vision) This can be caused by an infection of the Cytomegalovirus. This virus is a common source of infection in humans and generally lays dormant in the body without producing symptoms. While most people’s immune systems are able to fend it off, those with weakened immune systems are vulnerable to it. It is particularly prevalent in people with HIV/AIDS.

Retinitis pigmentosa (poor night vision,a gradual reduction in the peripheral field of vision, loss of the outer edges of vision, tunnel vision ) Usually begins between the ages of 10 and 30, although some changes may become apparent in childhood.

Retinoschisis (flashes of light, floaters, sparkles of light, or shadows) Juvenile X-linked retinoschisis is a genetic disease of the retina and affects primarily boys and young men. Degenerative retinoschisis is the splitting of the retina as a result of aging. It can lead to retinal detachment and blindness if not treated so must be investigated promptly when symptoms appear.

Rheumatoid arthritis (dry eyes, burning pain, discharge from eye) For natural remedies see Rheumatoid arthritis.

S

Sarcoidosis (dry eyes)

Scleritis (red or pink eye)

Sinusitis (pain around eyes) This caused by an infection or allergy affecting the sinuses. For natural remedies see Sinusitis

Sjogren's syndrome (dry eyes, itchy eyes, burning pain, discharge from eye, foreign body sensation) If the lachrymal glands do not produce enough tears, the eyes can become painfully dry and can be damaged. A rare cause of inadequate tear production is Sjogren's syndrome. The eyes can also become dry when evaporation causes an excessive loss of tears, for example, if the eyelids do not close properly. There are now effective eye drops available to relieve these symptoms.

Skin cancer (bump on eyelid, coloured or brown spot on eye) For natural remedies see Cancer

Stargardt's disease (progressive vision loss) This is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. The progressive vision loss is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina called the macula.

Strabismus (crossed eyes, distorted depth perception, eyes point in different directions)

Stroke (frequent blinking, double vision, limited eye movement ability) For natural remedies and ways to reconsise and protect against them see Strokes

Stye (bump on eyelid, foreign body sensation, painful eyelid) A stye (hordeolum) is an infection, usually a Staphylococcal bacterial infection, of one or more of the glands at the edge of the eyelid or under it. An abscess forms and tends to rupture, releasing a small amount of pus. Styes sometimes form simultaneously with or as a result of blepharitis. A person may have one or two styes in a lifetime, but some people develop them repeatedly. A stye usually begins with redness, tenderness, and pain at the edge of the eyelid. Then a small, round, tender, swollen area forms. The eye may water, become sensitive to bright light, and feel as though something is in it. Usually, only a small area of the lid is swollen, but sometimes the entire lid swells. Often a tiny, yellowish spot develops at the center of the swollen area. Although antibiotics are used, they don't seem to help much. The best treatment is to apply hot compresses for 10 minutes several times a day. The warmth helps the stye come to a head, rupture and drain. When a stye forms in one of the deeper glands of the eyelid, a condition called an internal hordeolum, the pain and other symptoms are usually more severe. Pain, redness, and swelling tend to occur in just a very small area, usually at the edge of the eyelid. Because this type of stye rarely ruptures by itself, a doctor may have to open it to drain the pus. Internal styes tend to recur.
Subconjunctival haemorrhage (red or pink eye)
Surgery (red or pink eye, foreign body sensation, iris defect)

T

Tonic pupil (pupil unresponsive to light)

Trichotillomania (eyelash loss)

Twitching eye or blepharospasm (involuntary blinking or muscle twitching near the eye or of the eyelid) This is an uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the upper eyelid. Most people develop a minor and temporary eyelid twitch at some point in their lives and the cause may be through excessive caffeine, fatigue or stress. Sometimes it can be caused by blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), conjunctivitis, dry eyes or light sensitivity. Rarely it can be a sign of a brain or nerve disorder, such as Bell's palsy, dystonia, Parkinson's disease or some treatments for Parkinson's disease or tourette's syndrome. Some medications can also cause it such as those used in the treatment of psychosis and epilepsy. In very rare cases, it be caused by a neurological condition see Hemi-facial spasm.

U

Uveitis (squinting, red or pink eye, pupil unresponsive to light, vision defects) This is the inflammation of the uvea, the pigmented layer that lies between the inner retina and the outer fibrous layer composed of the sclera and cornea. The uvea consists of the middle layer of pigmented vascular structures of the eye and includes the iris, ciliary body and choroid. Uveitis may be caused by eye surgery, such as cataract removal, or a result of many of the eye disorders  listed here or may be a normal immune response to fight a bacterial, fungal, parasite or viral infection inside the eye or due to any of the conditions listed below. Follow the blue links to find out more and natural remedies to treat these conditions.

V

Vascular problems (red or pink eye, bulging eye, double vision)

Vergence disorder (squinting, double vision)

Vitamin A deficiency (blindness) This is leading cause of preventable blindness in 250,000 to 500,000 children worldwide. For natural sources of this vital nutrient see Vitamin A

Vitreous detachment (light flashes)

Vitreous haemorrhage (blurred vision, floaters, light flashes) This is the term given to bleeding into the middle chamber of the eye which is the 'vitreous.

W

White dot syndrome (blurred vision, distorted colours, visual field loss) This is a group of idiopathic multifocal inflammatory conditions involving the retina and the choroid that may be caused by autoimmune disorders, bacterial, fungal or viral infections or  genetics.

X

Xanthelasma (bump on the eyelid, coloured spot on eyelid) Can be caused by high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol ands this may be hereditary also known as familial hypercholesterolemia

Eye surgery

Because the eyes are the most sensitive part of the body many people are terrified of having any kind of surgery on their eyes. However, with today's technology and the skill of the eye surgeons, it is a relatively painless procedure in most cases and the eyes recover very quickly from trauma. Most eye operations do not require an overnight stay and some can be done under a local anaesthetic which can be quite a scary proposition but is worth considering as there are always dangers with full anaesthetics especially for the elderly. It is good idea to prepare your home to have everything you need in easy to find places for when you come home after eye surgery. It is advisable not to drive after surgery as ones distance perception changes if one eye is suddenly compromised and this can be dangerous in traffic.

Cataract removals usually take very little time to perform and the vision is improved very soon afterwards.

Retina reattachments and corneal grafts take much longer to both perform and recover from. With corneal grafts, sometimes many months pass before the vision is improved and sometimes refractive surgery is required afterwards to correct the misshapen cornea. This entails making a tiny incision in the cornea and then using sutures to pull the eye into shape and these may stay in the eye indefinitely or be taken out a few at a time when the eye consultant has examined the eye to see what shape it is taking.

Corneal dystrophies very often return a few years after a corneal graft and the operation needs to be repeated. However, the eye can only take two of three grafts so often the consultant will do one eye at a time and then when the other eye has deteriorated somewhat he will perform a graft on that one.

Sometimes, cataracts can be caused by the corneal graft operations. Steroids are required when a corneal from someone else has been grafted onto the eye in order to  stop rejection and these can cause some side effects. Herpes attacks can reoccur due to steroids. Weight can be gained and hairs can grow on women's faces and chest.

Learn more about having corneal graft surgery.

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The Author

Nat H Hawes

Nat H Hawes SNHS Dip (Advanced and Sports nutrition) has hereditary corneal dystrophy of the eyes and is a qualified nutritional and sports therapist and author of the book, Nature Cures, and pocketbooks on various subjects who has been researching natural foods and their health benefits since 2003. Read more.

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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