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How Omega-3s Can Help Treat Dry Eye

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Anyone who suffers from chronic dry eye knows how frustrating and uncomfortable it can be. Dry eye is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing discomfort and irritation due to inadequate tear production or poor tear quality to keep eyes lubricated and moisturized. 

Dry eye symptoms can include a gritty sensation, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. While there is no cure for dry eye, omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate symptoms and improve eye health.

It is important to always discuss with your eye care professional before taking any vitamins and supplements for your dry eyes–an eye exam is a great place to start.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: What are They?

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to always be making headlines in the health world, but what are they? Omega-3s are a type of fat that your body can’t make by itself. That means you’ve got to get them from your food or supplements. 

Why should you care about Omega-3s? They’re pretty fantastic for your health! They’re most known for reducing inflammation in the body, which is important because too much inflammation can lead to diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Omega-3s are also great for your brain. They can boost how well your brain works and they might even help protect it from getting weaker as you get older. When you consume omega-3s, they can increase the level of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in your brain. BDNF is like food for your neurons–it helps them survive and grow. 

Plus, it’s involved in neurogenesis, which is the process of forming new neurons. By consuming omega-3s, you’re not just feeding your body, you’re also fueling your brain’s growth and health.

The benefits don’t stop there. Omega-3s can also lower your blood pressure, reduce levels of unhealthy fats in your blood called triglycerides, slow down the buildup of plaque in your arteries, and improve your heart health overall. They’re a superfood, fighting against heart disease.

Omega-3 for Eye Health 

Research has found that omega-3 supplements can effectively prevent and alleviate dry eye disease. These fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are potent in controlling inflammation related to dry eyes. 

A diet rich in omega-3 fats may even lower the risk of dry eye. In fact, in one study, women with the highest dietary intake of omega-3s had a 17% lower risk of dry eye disease compared to those with the lowest intake. Despite these promising results, more research is needed to confirm these findings and explore the potential of omega-3s in treating more severe conditions like age-related macular degeneration.

Studies suggest that they may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and glaucoma, but it’s important to note that these studies aren’t conclusive yet.

The omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA is touted for its many health benefits, and vision protection may be one of them. So, by including more omega-3s in your diet, you’re not only feeding your body, but you’re also looking out for your eyes!

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Knowing all the benefits of omega-3s, you’re probably curious about what foods you can find them in

  • Mackerel: it’s a small, fatty fish that’s chock-full of Omega-3s and is incredibly easy to prepare
  • Salmon: famous for its high Omega-3 content, it’s also packed with protein and vitamin D
  • Sardines: tiny fish that are usually eaten whole and are an excellent source of Omega-3s
  • Flaxseeds: rich in ALA (a type of Omega-3)
  • Chia seeds: a fantastic source of Omega-3s, plus, they’re highly versatile and can be easily added to various dishes
  • Walnuts: these not only contain Omega-3s but also pack a punch with antioxidants
  • Soybeans: high in ALA and provide a plant-based protein boost 
  • Hemp seeds: although less known, these are incredibly nutritious and rich in Omega-3s
  • Anchovies: small yet mighty, these little fish are bursting with Omega-3s
  • Natto: a fermented soybean product that is not only a good source of Omega-3s but also rich in other nutrients
  • Caviar or fish eggs are a luxury food item known for their high Omega-3 content
  • Herring: often served smoked, this fish is a breakfast favourite and a fantastic source of Omega-3s

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help make sure that you’re getting enough Omega-3s. However, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and soybeans are your best bets.

What About Supplements? 

While omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil or krill oil, can be helpful, they’re not a magic fix. It’s always best to get your nutrients from real food when you can. So, try to eat more foods that are rich in omega-3s for the best health benefits.

A Healthy Diet: The Ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6

While omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health, it’s important to maintain a balanced ratio of omega-3s to other fatty acids, such as omega-6s. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is believed to be around 4:1 or lower

However, in Western diets, this ratio is often skewed much higher, with an overabundance of omega-6s from sources like processed foods and vegetable oils.

To achieve a healthier balance, incorporating more omega-3-rich foods into the diet while reducing the consumption of omega-6-rich processed foods can be beneficial. Additionally, choosing high-quality omega-3 supplements can help bridge the gap between dietary intake and optimal omega-3 levels.

Ultimately, it’s all about balance. Endeavour to modify your diet to align the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 closer together. If you require assistance, contemplate the use of a high-quality omega-3 supplement. Your body will undoubtedly appreciate it.

A Recommendation: PRN Omega-3 

PRN omega-3 from Labtician is an excellent choice. This supplement is brimming with essential nutrients that your body requires. It’s specifically formulated to bolster your overall health, with a particular focus on eye health. 

A woman in an optometry clinic shaking hands with her male optometrist

Nourishing Relief for Dry Eyes with Omega-3s

Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, whether through natural sources like fatty fish and seeds or synthetic supplements, can be a valuable strategy in managing dry eye symptoms. 

By harnessing their anti-inflammatory properties and promoting tear production, omega-3s offer a holistic approach to improving eye health and comfort. 

As always, it’s important to consult with your eye care provider at Collingwood Optometry or Cwood Eyecare before starting any new supplements or vitamins. Book your appointment to learn more about how to care for dry eyes today.

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Dr. Jayne

Written by Dr. E. J. Cation

Dr. E. Jayne Cation was born and raised in rural Caledon. She completed her Honours BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 2008 and then graduated with honours as a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2012.

Dr. Cation is a proud member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists and Canadian Association of Optometrists. She is also a Quality Assurance Assessor with the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

More Articles By Dr. E. J. Cation

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