For dry eyes, not all fish oils supplements are the same. A recent study found that re-esterified triglyceride omega-3 fatty acids were superior for tackling dry eye symptoms. The triglyceride form is similar but more economical than the re-esterified triglyceride form.
Omega 3 fatty acids occur naturally in fish. These antioxidants have been shown to have significant across-the-board health benefits. Our bodies are not capable of producing omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, the American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish twice a week and/or take a supplement daily. Try to avoid farmed fish unless organically grown. While there are food sources of omega-3’s, cardiac patients and others may need to additionally supplement. Fish oil supplements are purified and concentrated as part of the manufacturing process. There are three types of fish oil supplements:
- ethyl esters
- triglyceride (backbone)
- re-esterified triglyceride
Which Form of Fish Oil Supplement is Best?
The ethyl ester form is commonly found and less expensive per tablet than the other types. However, this form does not have as high a concentration of bioavailable eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Bioavailable means the body is more able to absorb the nutrients. Therefore, larger amounts of the inexpensive ethyl esters form are needed to get the same effect. When looking at value, triglyceride was found to provide the most bioavailable EPA for the money.1
Fish Oils for Dry Eye
Dry eye is an increasingly common condition, mostly due to near-constant screen time, menopause and side-effects of medication. The main symptom is dry, itchy eyes (or can manifest as overproduction of tears). A study looked at taking re- esterified triglyceride omega-3 supplements for dry eye.2 It found improvements in tear osmolarity, omega-3 index levels, tear break-up time, matrix metalloproteinase-9, and Ocular Surface Disease Index symptom scores. The daily intake was 1680 mg of EPA and 560 mg of DHA.
Discuss with your doctor the amount of omega-3 supplement you need, if any. Typical supplementation is 2,000 to 3,000 mg of Omega 3 per day. High doses can cause bleeding in some people. 3 When selecting a fish oil supplement, read the bottle carefully. The form of omega-3 should be written on the label. Also, look at the amounts of EPA and DHA, and note how many tablets you will need to take each day.
Other supplements that can help reduce dry eye symptoms include black currant seed oil. vitamin A, natural eyedrops including specific homeopathic eyedrops which not only help lubricate the eyes but supports natural tear production as well.
- “Is There a Difference Between Re-esterified Triglyceride and Ethyl Ester Fish Oil?” By Larry J. Alexander, OD. Advanced Ocular Care January/February 2011 ↩
- “Effect of Oral Re-esterified Omega-3 Nutritional Supplementation on Dry Eyes” by Epitropoulos, Alice T. et. al. Cornea: September 2016 – Volume 35 – Issue 9 – p 1185–1191 doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000000940 ↩
- http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.WA95StUrLX4 ↩