Nutrition Is Often Overlooked When Managing Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease affects around one-quarter of Canadians, and since it is a chronic condition, there is presently no specific treatment that will totally prevent dry eye from re-occurring. Despite this, there are several dry eye treatment and prevention options that are accessible on the market.  This can include products like eye drops, eye masks, and ointments or procedures like IPL and Radiofrequency.  However, nutrition and more specifically Omega-3 intake is often overlooked in its treatment and addressing it can give dry eye sufferers much more consistent and long term improvement. This guide will  help you understand more about the most effective Omega-3s for dry eye available in Canada and what to look for and avoid when buying them if you suffer from dry eyes. Continue reading to find out more.

What Are the Advantages of Omega-3s For Dry Eye?

According to the National Eye Institute, although eye drops (artificial tears) and ointments are the most often prescribed therapies for dry eye, many people find further relief by supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are available in capsule form, and liquid form. The two key omega-3 fatty acids that are vital elements are as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are essential for a variety of bodily processes and are found in every cell of the human body . In relevance to dry eye, these critical omega-3 fatty acids aid in the production and expression of oil from our meibomian glands which enters our tear film.  The lipid layer is the natural protective barrier of our tear film and by improving it we can effectively reduce premature evaporation of tears from the eye surface which in turn leads to a reduction in inflammation and dry eye symptoms.

Which Omega- 3s are Best For Dry Eye Sufferers?

When choosing Omega-3s specific for dry eye there are two main factors to keep in mind.  The first is the quality of the product which is dependent on the source and manufacturing process involved in its production.  We recommend Omega-3s in the re-esterified triglyceride form because they eliminate many of the pollutants found in high quantities of raw fish such as mercury, lead and other heavy metals. These ultra-purified supplements are also more easily digestible which increased bioavailability and effectiveness.  Furthermore, this purifying process eliminates much of the fishy taste associated with lower quality over the counter Omega 3 supplements.  All of our Omega-3s including I-VU OMEGA-3 PLUS and the PRN line are strictly purified into the res-esterified triglyceride form.

  • I-VU Omega 3 Plus

How Much EPA and DHA Is Needed For Improvement In Dry Eye Symptoms?

Studies indicate that approximately 1500 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA per day provides clinically significant improvement of dry eye symptoms after 3-6 months.  This is equivalent to 4 capsules  a day of I-VU Omega-3 Plus or 3 capsules a day of PRN DE 3 Omega Benefits.  Alternatively, just 1 teaspoon a day of PRN Omega Essentials High Potency Liquid will meet the daily requirement.  On this note, its important for users of lower cost over the counter Omega 3s to carefully note the EPA and DHA content on the label of their product.  Often it only adds up to 100-200 mg per day and the rest of the Omega-3s are flaxseed based which reduces production cost but isn’t substantial enough to improve dry eye symptoms. For this reason its vital to not look solely at the total omega-3 dose listed on the front of the label as EPA and DHA are what we are looking for.

Take Home Message

Omega-3 deficiency can cause the meibomian glands to become irritated and blocked, which causes increased tear evaporation and eye dryness as a result of a lack of oil in the tears.  In order to have long term improvement in dry eye symptoms, Omega-3 intake in combination with eye drops, warm compresses, and other treatments plays a very important role.  We also know, that after an initial 90-day period of adequate Omega-3 intake followed by long-term usage of the product you can expect positive results in the majority of cases.

References

1. Why PRN? PRN Omega Health.

2. Epitropoulos AT, Donnenfeld ED, Shah ZA et al. Effect of Oral Re-esterified Omega-3 Nutritional Supplementation on Dry Eyes. Cornea. 2016; 35 (9): 1185–1191. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000000940

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Dr. Shiv Sharma

Dr. Shiv Sharma

Dr. Shiv Sharma is a practicing Optometrist in British Columbia, Canada. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in M.B.B. from Simon Fraser University and Doctor Of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. His clinical areas of interest include ocular disease, pediatric optometry, dry eye disease, and primary eye care. He loves technology and incorporating cutting edge care in to his practice. He has lectured and consulted for several eye care industry companies in the dry eye, contact lens, and practice management space.

Disclaimer: Please note this article is not to be taken as medical advice and is solely for informational purposes. Please see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.

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