Eye Care Tip of the Week | #4
Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement can help reduce dry eye symptoms.
How? Research and our clinical observation continue to support the taking of omega-3 fish oil supplements to reduce dry eye signs and symptoms for some patients. Omega-3 fish oil supplements in addition to lubricating eye drops and a daily lid hygiene routine can help improve ocular comfort and quality of vision.
We especially see this in patients who suffer from evaporative or meibomitis related dry eye syndrome. Studies have shown both objective and subjective improvement in patient symptoms within these groups. Omega-3 supplements seem to help improve the quality of the oil layer within the tears. This increases the overall tear break up time, allowing for increased time between blinks because of a more stable tear layer.
So How Much Omega-3 Fish Oil Should You Take for Dry Eye?
We suggest that patient's looking to start an omega-3 fish oil supplement to treat their dry eye syndrome begin small with about 1000mg per day of the natural bioactive triglyceride form (EPA&DHA).
To determine how many tablets you need to take, flip the bottle over and read the ingredients label and add the EPA and DHA numbers together.
Example: A popular Canadian company Jamieson's makes a Wild Salmon & Fish Oils omega-3 1000mg tablet which contains 180 EPA and 120 DHA or 300mg of bioactive omega-3. So you would need to take about 3-tablets per day to get a sufficient dose.
How to Choose your omega-3 fish oils.
It goes without saying the best source of fish oils is simply to eat more wild fatty fish. The alternative, however, is purchasing a supplement. We recommend looking for omega-3 fish oil supplements produced from smaller fish like sardines, mackerel and anchovies because of the lower risk of heavy metal and chemicals.
We also prefer products that are as close to the original natural form as possible. The natural triglyceride oil is probably the closest, but it also has the highest risk for contaminants. The ethyl ester oils are the next best thing and are a more purified concentrated version of the natural triglyceride oil, allowing for greater quantities of DHA & EPA to be in each capsule.
How to Store Your Fish Oil Supplements.
Fish oil supplements should be kept in the fridge, just like you would store the fish you buy from the grocery store or catch at the lake. Heat, light and oxygen all cause a degradation of fish oils over time and contribute to the fish smell some people notice. We also recommend not buying the mega tubs sold at warehouse stores, and stick with smaller 1-month supplies.
Please Note: Before starting any new medication or supplement, please talk to your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you and that it would interact with any other medications you might be taking. Always read the manufacturers guidelines.
Int J Ophthalmol. 2013; 6(6): 811–816. A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome. NCIB resources
This Eye Care Tip of the Week was brought to you by Dr. Ross McKenzie.