Taking a high quality, daily fish oil supplement is a safe way to boost our diet with the essential omega 3 fatty acids that have so many good effects on dry eyes and general health, especially if we don’t eat enough fish each week.
Dry eye is a complex and chronic condition that can worsen or improve with multiple variables. One of them is diet. The Mayo Clinic confirms: “Taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement can reduce symptoms of dry eyes”. The reason fish oils can help with dry eye symptoms is because our tears are made up of an oily layer and a watery layer, and the oily layer is produced by oil glands that line our eyelids called meibomian glands. Taking a fish oil supplement improves the stability of the oil layer of our tears, making the tears take longer to evaporate, so they stay in our eyes longer.
How it works:
Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are natural anti-inflammatory agents that are important for healthy brain development and retinal function. When the meibomian glands are inflamed (meibomitis) they don’t produce the oils needed to keep the eyes hydrated, and the EPA in fish oil suppresses this inflammation, which dramatically reduces the gritty irritation you might have upon waking in the morning. It also protects the gland that produces the watery part of the tears (the lacrimal gland), thereby inhibiting secondary inflammation of the eye tissue. Turmeric, which is found in curcumin, also demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties that help with meibomitis.
How much to take:
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory with no side effects. Most health organizations recommend a daily intake of at least 250–500 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA. A typical 1,000-mg fish oil softgel contains about 250 mg of combined EPA and DHA, while one teaspoon (5 ml) of liquid fish oil has around 1,300 mg of omega 3.
In general, people of all ages should take between 2,000mg and 3,000 of fish oil with food daily for dry eye. It’s important that each capsule contains a combined total of at least 600mg of DHA and EPA. If you eat a meal of salmon, herring, sardines, trout or codfish, you can skip one capsule.
How much is too much?
“According to the European Food Safety Authority, omega-3 fatty acid supplements can be safely consumed at doses up to 5,000 mg daily,” according to Rachael Link MS, RD. Beyond this amount, possible side effects are, “increased bleeding risk, higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol, blood sugar control problems, and a fishy aftertaste or odor. In some at-risk populations, such as people who have had a heart transplant, omega-3 fatty acids may affect heart rate. If you have heart disease, only take omega-3 fatty acids under the direction of your health care provider,” says Katherine Zeratsky, R.D. “As a general rule of thumb, if you experience any negative symptoms, simply decrease your intake or consider meeting your omega-3 fatty acid needs through food sources instead”.
What to take:
EZ tears by Eye Promise is a high quality omega 3 supplement that contains all the recommended ingredients: a high percentage of DHA and EPA as well as other anti-inflammatory factors (evening primrose oil, turmeric root extract, etc.) to reduce inflammation and improve dry eye symptoms. With a 30 day money-back guarantee, this is Dr. B’s top choice.
What else does fish oil do?
In addition to alleviating dry eye, taking omega-3 supplements has shown other eye health benefits, such as a lower incidence of age-related macular degeneration and nuclear cataracts.
“Omega-3s help repair our bodies by fighting chronic inflammation that can adversely affect our eyes, heart, blood vessels, joints and skin. Much like an oil change helps an engine run more smoothly by cutting down on friction, omega-3s can re-oil parts of our bodies that have worn down over time…Pregnant women and individuals over 40 years of age particularly benefit from omega-3 supplementation”, says Dr. Michael Geiger.
How long will it take to work?
You can expect to feel the benefits after a month, but it often takes up to 3 months to reach the maximum effect.