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Iron Deficiency and Eye Problems

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  • Iron Deficiency and Eye Problems

    Dear Dr. Lange,

    Thank you for adding your expertise to the doctors' forums here at the DEZ!

    In December of 2006 I had "significant anemia." After taking iron supplements for three months, I knew that my anemia must have been present for at least two years. My vision was sort of "dim," and I had lots of other things that were gradually going wrong that improved after taking the supplements.

    Recurrent corneal erosions, due to ebmd, began about five months after the anemia was diagnosed. My question is, as I am still likely still recovering from many effects of that, what should I do nutritionally for my eyes to help them to recover?



  • #2
    recurrent corneal erosions after anemia

    I guess the first question is did they find out the cause of the anemia? Were you bleeding or b-12 deficient? If it was from bleeding you must be very careful taking too much fish oil, vitamin e, bilberry, or ginko bilboa since these all have blood thinning properties. i would avoid coffee or black tea and soft drinks these will interfere with absorption of iron. Vitamin c however will increase absorption of iron. as long as your cholesterol isnt high organic calf liver is a good source of B-12, folic acid and iron. A diet that i recommend to all of my patients is one high in dark green leafy vegetables ( spinach, kale, collards) these need to be gently steamed, boiled or sauteed with olive oil, eat more blue berries, orange bell pepers are high in zeaxanthin, drink red wine in moderation( high in resveratrol that is a powerful antioxidant and may prove to be good at stopping unwanted blood vessel growth in the eyes, green tea also has this ability to help stop unwanted blood vessels from growing and is a powerful anti oxidant, soy isoflavones will also help stop the "bad blood vessels", curcumin from the tumeric root (curry spice) may slow down cataracts, help fight against internal inflamation in the eye like uveitis and may prove to be benefitial for dry eyes and macular degeneration.
    Omega threes from fish that is not farmed raised like wild alaskan salmon or sardines, and must get plenty of vitamin d3 from the sun for twenty minutes a day or a supplement.

    lets talk a bit more about your erosion problem, it sounds to me like you have had a non traumatic RCE that is do to structural weaknes of the corneal basement membrane. A multitude of things can cause this and a lack of certain vitamins and minerals can aggrevate the problem . Have you gotten it under control? I have had the best sucess with long term 30 day continuous wear bandage contacts either ciba Night and Day or B&L Purevision, these are the only two i would ever consider!! I would consider doing a six month temporay plug in both inferior punctums and use a preservative free artificail tear, i would also consume more oily fish and take a good supplement containing fish oil, GLa and curcumin or sesame or both, do not sleep under a ceiling fan or ac vents, you can use a humidifier and heppa filter if you want to go all out. If you have done all of this and dont get releif you may consider stromal acupuncture and in some cases PTK ( laser resurfacing). I hope this is of some benefit, any other questions let me know. Oh lastly drink half your body weight in bottled or filtered water. see ya. Dr. Mike


    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael Lange OD View Post
      drink red wine in moderation( high in resveratrol that is a powerful antioxidant and may prove to be good at stopping unwanted blood vessel growth in the eyes, green tea also has this ability to help stop unwanted blood vessels from growing and is a powerful anti oxidant, soy isoflavones will also help stop the "bad blood vessels",
      Sorry Liz for jumping in here - I don't want to get the thread onto another topic - just briefly want to highlight this as I feel quite sure there are readers out there that are going to be interested in it as we get questions about it from time to time in the forums. Dr. Lange, just for my own perspective, are these recent findings, or are there any studies to support this, or...?
      Rebecca Petris
      The Dry Eye Zone


      • #4
        Thank you!

        Dear Dr. Lange,

        Thank you for all of the detailed information!

        My anemia was due to excessive bleeding, and I had a uterine ablation in August to make sure that the bleeding lessened. My doctor took me off of iron supplements in September. Hemoglobin is steady at 13.8.

        I have the erosions largely under control, thanks to Dr. Holly's research! It is good to know that there are still options if I cannot rid myself of them, though, and I thank you for that additional information.

        My diet is already much as you describe, though I will take care with the fish oil (but I don't know if I can do the calf liver oil, just yet!).

        I had my B12 levels checked just out of concern back in April 2007, and they were normal. I have a lot of water, salmon, spinach, and soy products in my diet. I also work out daily and have healthy cholesterol levels and good blood pressure, 110/70.

        The information about "bad blood vessels" is really news to me. I had no idea that there were such things.

        Rebecca is right! You've given me something new to consider, and now I want to learn more!

        Thanks, ever so much, Dr. Lange!



        • #5
          newer nutrients for eye health

          Liz this is an area that I have a lot of interest in. There are four specific nutrients that are really starting to be researched more than ever before. These have been around since the beginning of time but no real benefits were realized till recently. many of the first studies were in animals. Resveratrol which comes from red wine, japanese knot weed, grapes, blueberris and nuts have some incredible health benefits. Just to put things in perspective a good red wine has about 1mg of resveratrol per glass. The French parodox is these people live longer than americans and their diet is extremely high in saturated fats, well maybe the red wine is helping, Patients that drink moderate amounts of red wine are healthier and less likely to develop ARMD. Hmmmmmm, so we think it is the resveratrol that is benefitial,
          Green Tea, curcumin form the tumeric root and soy isoflavones all have very similar benefits, we are using these nutrients combined with all the studied nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, billberry, grape seed extract, whole foods (spinach , kale and blueberries) combined with vitamins minerals and fish oil in studies we are doing at The Lange Eye Institute. We are using intracellualr blood tests (spectracel) to help determine if we are getting maximum cellular absorption? I do have a large amount of patients that are truly benefiting some quite dramatically form these nutritional changes. It does however take a lot of time to do all of these tests and then put it all together. Time is something I never seem to have enough of. I will be writing an updated version of a paper i wrote about six months ago about life style changes and nutritional intervention, i will include all of the latest.


          • #6
            Follow-up Question

            Dear Dr. Lange,

            Thanks for all of the good information in this forum. I re-read your posts, because there is a LOT of information there, and it is so helpful to have this resource to which I can refer.

            I was in the health food store recently and saw a pill form of resveratrol. I am trying to get it through dietary means, as you suggested-- especially blueberries. However, I am curious about whether or not you think that a pill form is worthwhile and safe.

            Also, thank you for your tips on RCE's. I do have the problem largely under control for now with the help of Dr. Holly's Dwelle eye drops, TranquilEyes goggles, and Genteal Gel at night. I cannot help but wonder, however, if this problem is related to nutrition, hormones, or some combination.

            I just learned that my thyroid is having problems-- it has three benign nodules. I do not have Graves disease, my TSH is in the normal range (1.32), and I am on 12.5 mcg's of synthroid. I'm curious if a thyroid deficiency can cause a structural weakness in the epithelium, as it also causes dry eye, dry, brittle hair and hair loss, no cuticles, brittle nails, and some skin problems. Can you recommend specific vitamins or dietary changes that might help?

            Thank you for volunteering your time and expertise to this forum. It is reassuring to know that I can come here and get answers to my questions. I really appreciate your generosity.



            • #7
              resveratrol and eye health.

              Resveratrol, a nonalcoholic constituent of wine has a broad spectrum of health benefits. Two sources used in supplements today are from red wine and from polygonum cuspidatum (japaneese knot weed). Some properties of resveratrol are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor (anti vegf), cardioprotectant, neuroprotectant, antidepressant to name just a few. We are excited about it because of the anti vegf properties that may prove to be benefitial in ARMD and diabetic retinopathy. And of course the anti-inflammatory aspects may help with all sorts of eye related problems including dry eye? Neuroprtectant would possibly benefit glaucoma, optic neuritis and opti neuropathies. I personally think the regular use of resveratrol supplements may help in the prevention of many general and ocular diseases. We need more double blind placebo controlled studies to really prove this however. More and more of these studies will become available in the future. Currently 5mg to 20mg a day in supplemental form is what is recommended. A good red wine has 1-2mg of resveratrol per glass.
              As far as thyroid goes,Yes if you had Graves disease and had proptosis (bulging of eyes)with a secondary exposure keratopathy then you would be more susceptible to RCE. A dry eye will have more complications with RCE.
              Mike Lange OD