Welcome to question of the day #227

Eyetools question of the day #227

I’ve recently read that there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and eye diseases. Is this true?

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to uveitis, age-related macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome

 Vitamin D prevents harmful chemicals produced simply by being alive from causing damage to the body. By neutralising these chemical inflammation is reduced. Inflammation is the route cause of many diseases.

The body can produce its own vitamin D but it needs to have skin exposed to sunlight to do so. People with dark skin, people who live in very hot climates, people who live in very cold climates and people who spend most of their time indoors may not be able to get enough sunlight exposure to produce healthy levels of vitamin D. Also the vitamin D formation process decreases in efficiency with age.

A friend of mine moved from the Middle-East to the UK west coast (often cloudy and rainy) and covered most her body for cultural reasons when outside. After a few months, she felt unwell and was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.

It can be difficult getting the balance between having enough sun exposure to produce a decent amount of vitamin D but not so much that the skin becomes damaged.

Good studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are associated with reoccurrence of uveitis, onset of age-related macular degeneration and dry eye.

The good news is that vitamin D is also available through food. Fatty fish (mackerel, tuna and salmon) are high in vitamin D, as are pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds and Brazil nuts. Dark leafy greens (spinach and kale) and avocado all contain vitamin D. Some milk is fortified with vitamin D.

I take fish oil, which is also a good source of omega 3 essential oil. There are versions produced from algae which are suitable for people who prefer not to eat animal based foodstuffs.

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is common. Fortunately, it is easy to detect with a simple blood test and it can be treated with vitamin D supplements, when sunlight exposure and diet doesn’t provide enough. A general practitioner should be able to arrange a blood test and if necessary provide supplements.