Omega Fatty Acids Benefit Dry Eyes

As we know well at Natural Eye Care, taking care of dry eye syndrome is about more than just using eye drops.  In fact, it may never be about using eye drops.

An article over at PCON Supersite discusses some oral treatments for dry eyes. We recommend that our patients evaluate their diet and lifestyle choices and make some necessary changes as well as take the right dietary supplements.

Not only our eyes, but the entire body need essential fatty acids in the form of omega-6s and omega-3s.  Omega-6s help fight inflammation that can be an underlying cause of dry eyes and omega-3s make it possible for the body to use the fats in omega-6s.

According to the article’s author, Jeffrey Anshel, OD, the Institute of Medicine recommends we take in “four times as many omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3 fatty acids. It is currently estimated that the average American diet maintains a ratio of up to 25:1.”  This overabundance of omega-6s comes from the Western diet’s reliance on vegetable oils containing linoleic acid that are added to processed foods.  What we really need are fats in the form of  omega-6 gamma linolenic acid (GLA).  These can be found in black currant seed oil, borage oil and evening primrose oil, which are much more rarely found in the average American pantry.  A great source for omega-3s is fish oil.

Source: Primary Care Optometry News, November 1, 2008

Omega-3/Dry Eye Update:

A study published in the journal Cornea involved giving 36 dry eye patients a 90 day regiment of fish oil containing 450 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid, 300 mg of docosahexaenoic acid and 1000 mg of flaxseed oil.  The researchers were seeking to determine the effect of the supplementation on the lipid composition of meibum, aqueous tear evaporation and tear volume.

Seventy percent of those who received the fish oil supplement experienced relief of symptoms by the end of the study compared to just 7% who took the placebo.  Scientists found that the supplements did not markedly alter meibum lipid composition or aqueous tear evaporation rate.  Omega-3 did increased tear production and tear volume in individuals with dry eyes.

Source: Cornea. 2011;30(3):308-314.