As we age, tears fall less often.
Do we become world-weary, jaded? Perhaps, but the most common reason actually has a name in the medical lexicon: Dry Eyes Syndrome (DES).
Modern life can cause dry eyes: airplanes, air conditioners and computer screens are big culprits. Yet several groups are more likely to feel the discomfort of DES:
- People over 50
- Women experiencing hormonal changes, whether with pregnancy, menopause or oral contraceptives.
- Those with a diet low in Vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids
More specific causes of Dry Eyes Syndrome:
- Decreased tear production due to aging, diseases, medications, or damage
- Increased tear evaporation due to dry air
- Imbalance in tear film: Water, fatty oils and mucus in tears keep the ocular surface smooth and clear, and it helps protect your eyes from infection.
Mild cases respond to over-the-counter eye drops. Other options for more painful conditions include antibiotics, steroids, eye inserts, and tear duct closure.
Should probiotics be added to the list?
A pair of studies out of University of Catania in Italy both reported positive results with probiotic use in treating DES.
Enterococcus faecium and Saccharomyces boulardii were added to substitute tears for one group of 30 subjects. The control group of 30 received only the artificial tears. Researchers found that the administration of probiotic strains was effective in reducing DES. Read more in July 2017 Current Clinical Pharmacology.
Strains of Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium bifido comprised the mixture used in the second clinical trial. Twenty subjects were used in each of the test and placebo groups. Results suggest that probiotic treatments may be helpful in reducing DES. Read more here.
A study from Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo also showed positive results with a mixture including a strain of Enterococcus faecium in both rodent and human models. The mixture also contained fish oil, lactoferrin, zinc, vitamin C, lutein, vitamin E, γ-aminobutanoic acid, so it is impossible to single out the probiotic for praise.