Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that is associated with a burning, stinging feeling in the eyes, blurred vision, red or irritated eyes, and an uncomfortable feeling like something is in the eye.
Dry eye occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep them well-lubricated and healthy. Aging, hormonal changes, allergies, the environment, excessive screen time, and certain medical conditions are common causes of dry eyes.
Eye drops and ointments are widely used to treat dry eye syndrome. Many people are also turning to alternative remedies for relief. Fish oil – extracted from the tissues of oily fish like salmon and mackerel – is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have benefits for eye health.
Read on to learn more about how fish oil can help reduce dry eye syndrome symptoms.
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Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil offer a number of health benefits thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
There are three primary omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for body and brain health:
- α-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
These potent nutrients have been extensively researched and found to lower the risk of chronic diseases like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
There is ongoing research exploring the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for eye health. DHA plays a particularly important role in eye function. Some research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent vision problems and blindness from macular degeneration.
A 2019 review of 34 different studies found that omega-3 supplementation can help treat dry eye, but the evidence is conflicting.
Researchers continue to study the effects of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids on the prevention and treatment of eye diseases.
possible side effects
Fish oil is generally considered safe for most adults. Mild side effects include bad breath, foul-smelling sweat, headache and gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, heartburn and nausea.
Omega-3 supplements (including fish oil) can interact with drugs used to help blood clot, so speak to your doctor before trying fish oil if you are on any prescription medication.
If you are allergic to seafood it is unsafe to take fish oil supplements. Play it safe and talk to your doctor before using fish oil.
Dosage and preparation
There is currently no recommended dosage for daily intake of fish oil. However, there are guidelines that recommend 1.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women.
There is currently no recommended daily allowance for other types of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. However, a daily intake of 250-500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA combined is sufficient for most adults.
Talk to your doctor about the right dosage for you.
If you don’t want to use fish oil supplements, you can try adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids from natural sources (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines) can help stimulate tear production and moisturize the eyes.
Taking flaxseed oil or other omega-3 supplements can also be effective.
It’s best to take fish oil supplements with a meal that contains fat, as fat increases the body’s absorption of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids from all sources
Your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from all sources (food and dietary supplements) counts towards the recommended daily allowance. In other words, if you are consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and taking a dietary supplement, you can go through the daily recommendation.
Fish oil is available in capsule and liquid forms in health food stores, grocery stores, and some drug stores. With so many options available, it’s important to remember that not all fish oils are created equal. Always read the label carefully when purchasing fish oil / omega-3 supplements.
Check the following:
- Kind of omega-3: Make sure the supplement you buy contains EPA and DHA, the most important types of omega-3 fatty acids for eye health.
- Amount of omega-3s: Many dietary supplements contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. So be sure to check the label for the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in each dose. A typical fish oil supplement provides approximately 1,000 mg / fish oil with 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA, but the dosages vary.
- absorption: Also known as “bioavailability”, this indicates how easily your body can use the nutrients in fish oil. The less processed, the better. Natural fish oils are more easily absorbed than purified fish oils.
- Product purity: seek Products that have either the GOED purity standard or a third-party seal that indicates they have been tested by an independent laboratory and that the contents are safe and contain what it says on the label.
- Freshness: When fish oil goes bad, it tends to have a rancid odor. Check the expiration dates of all the supplements you buy and smell them every now and then before consuming them to make sure they are still fresh. Make sure to keep your fish oil in the refrigerator after opening to prevent it from spoiling.
If you increase your consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. salmon, mackerel), buying fish oil supplements for dry eyes may not be necessary. You should be able to achieve the recommended daily allowance by consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using fish oil. Some species of fish contain heavy metals, such as mercury, which are potentially dangerous to pregnant women.
A word from Verywell
Dry eye syndrome can be a painful condition that affects your quality of life. Fish oil can help improve eye health, but research has been contradicting how beneficial it is for dry eye syndrome. It is possible to get enough omega-3 fatty acids from food sources such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel. Follow all treatments recommended by your doctor.
frequently asked Questions
What is the Best Omega-3 Dosage for Adults?
The National Academy of Medicine recommends 1.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women. There is currently no recommended daily allowance for other types of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. However, the US Department of Agriculture suggests that a daily intake of 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA combined is sufficient for most adults.
Which nutritional supplements for dry eyes work best?
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil make it potentially helpful to reduce dry eyes. Other supplements and vitamins can also be beneficial for eye health. Flaxseed oil, vitamin C, and vitamin E were used for their antioxidant properties, which can be helpful in reducing dry eye.
What Are The Benefits Of Fish Oil With Omega 3?
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have a number of health benefits, including protecting against heart disease, fighting inflammation, and improving mental health and mood. Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for eye health. DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) is a structural part of the retina of the eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent vision problems and blindness from macular degeneration.