Categories: DoseEye HealthFreshnessOmega-3

5 Ways Fish Oil Can Help With Dry Eye Relief

Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD
February 16, 2016

Increasing our intake of omega-3 from fish and cod liver oil can be an effective and relatively inexpensive way to help manage dry eye symptoms. Nearly every article addressing dry eyes mentions omega-3 supplements for their anti-inflammatory benefits, and many ophthalmologists and optometrists recommend taking them regularly.

There’s good reason for all the omega-3 excitement. Most dry eye issues appear to be caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). With MGD, the protective oil in our tears gets blocked from coming to the surface of the eye, causing our tears to evaporate too quickly. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found plentifully in fish and cod liver oil, are helpful for two reasons: 1) they relieve chronic inflammation, which is both a symptom and a cause of MGD, and 2) they improve the quality of the oil in our tears.

If you are starting an omega-3 regimen for dry eyes, however, it’s important to set yourself up for success. Here are five key points to remember:

1. Get an Effective Omega 3 Dose

For any omega-3 supplement to be effective, it is important to consume an adequate dose. Most of the research done on omega-3 and dry eyes have utilized at least two fish oil capsules a day (1, 2, 3).

Looking at the broader scope of omega-3 research, however, there’s reason to believe that we may need more than two capsules to help combat chronic inflammation symptoms. Numerous scientific reviews suggest the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 don’t kick in unless you get more than 2700 mg of EPA/DHA daily. That’s the same as consuming roughly 8-10 regular fish oil capsules or one tablespoon of a fresh liquid cod liver oil, like Omega Cure® Extra Strength.

2. Practice Consistency

It’s also necessary to take your omega-3 supplement every day. Because omega-3 is an important part of the cell’s metabolism, the body needs a regular supply of the fatty acids to combat chronic inflammation. With dry eyes, it’s also important to keep up the intake of omega-3 to maintain the lipid balance of the oil in the tear film.

If you chronically forget to take your supplement, you won’t give your body a chance to feel the omega 3 benefits. If you have trouble remembering to take your daily dose, try taking your supplement in conjunction with a meal, or set a daily reminder alarm. The key is to stick with it.

3. Give It Time

Although increasing your intake of omega-3 can be a wonderful way to improve dry eye symptoms, it’s not a quick fix. Most studies showing the benefits of omega-3 supplementation for dry eyes take at least 3 months to document effects. That’s because it takes time for the omega-3 supply to build up in the body.

With Omega Cure Extra Strength, our customers typically see a difference for dry eye symptoms within 6 to 8 weeks if they are diligent about taking their daily dose. However, be aware that the change can be gradual and will vary from individual to individual.

4. Get a Fresh Fish Oil

There’s no doubt that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for our health. The omega-3 molecules make up part of the cell membrane. They play an important role both in the exchange of nutrients across the cell membrane and in fighting inflammation. However, omega-3 fatty acids have a molecular structure that make them extremely prone to oxidation — or in layman’s terms — spoiling.

When the omega-3 molecules oxidize, they give off a fishy taste and smell. Studies from Norway (4), New Zealand (5), and Canada (6) have found that a high percentage of omega-3 supplements are rancid long before their stated expiration date. In addition, scientists not only suggest rancid omega-3 products are likely less potent than fresh ones; they also warn that consuming rancid fish oil can be harmful.

To make sure you are getting a fresh product, use your senses. If you are taking a liquid product, taste and smell the oil. If it is fresh, it should not have much of a taste or smell at all. The same goes for capsules. Break open one capsule and taste and smell the contents. For more tips, read this article: Is Your Fish Oil Rancid?

5. Pay Attention to the Timing

If you are having problems sleeping due to burning, gritty pain from your dry eyes, you may want to take your omega-3 supplement in the evening, a couple of hours before bed. However, if you are like many people with dry eyes, your symptoms may get worse as the day progresses. To help get the most relief from your omega-3 product, try taking it in the morning with a meal.

What Kind of Benefits Can You Expect for Dry Eyes?

If you are religious about taking your omega-3, what happens then? Studies indicate that omega-3 supplementation can improve the measurements used to evaluate dry eyes. These include improved tear osmolarity (7), decreased tear evaporation rate (2) and relief in dry eye discomfort (8). Patients in these studies have also self-reported improvements in eye redness and blurry vision (3). In addition, studies show that people with higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have a lower risk of getting dry eyes (1).

To read interviews with people who have found relief for their dry eye symptoms with Omega Cure Extra Strength, see more below:

> Restoring Eye Health and Harmony with Omega Cure

> Looking for Dry Eye Relief, Finding Help for Joints Too

An Effective Omega-3 Dose, Made Simple

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Learn More

1. Rahul Bhargava et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dry Eye Syndrome. International Journal of Ophthalmology 6.6 (2013): 811–816. PMC. December 18, 2013.

2. Rahul Bhargava et al. Oral Omega-3 Fatty Acids Treatment in Computer Vision Syndrome Related Dry Eye. Contact Lens & Anterior Eye. 2015 Jun; 38(3):206-10. doi: 10.1016/j.clae. 2015.01.007. Feb 16, 2015.

3. Oleñik A. Effectiveness and Tolerability of Dietary Supplementation with a Combination of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Antioxidants in the Treatment of Dry Eye Symptoms: Results of a Prospective Study. Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2014;8:169-76. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S54658. Jan 6, 2014.

4. Johnny Laupsa-Borge. Velg Ferske og Naturlige Omega-3 Produkter. Helsemagasinet: Vitenskap og Fornuft. December 9, 2012.

5. Benjamin Albert et al. Oxidation of Marine Omega-3 Supplements and Human Health. BioMed Research International, vol. 2013, Article ID 464921, 8 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/464921.

6. Jackowski, Stefan A. et al. Oxidation Levels of North American over-the-Counter n-3 (omega-3) Supplements and the Influence of Supplement Formulation and Delivery Form on Evaluating Oxidative Safety. Journal of Nutritional Science 4 (2015): e30.doi:10.1017/jns.2015.21. 

7. Lynda Charters and Eric D. Donnenfeld. Natural Oral Omega-3 Supplement Improves Dry Eye Parameters in 3 Months. Ophthalmology Times. November 15, 2015.

8. Marian Macsai. The Role of Omega-3 Dietary Supplementation in Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (An AOS Thesis). Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society 106 (2008): 336–356.

Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD

Born and raised in the United States, Dr. Chalmers graduated from Brown University and completed her medical training at the University of Oslo in Norway. Dr. Chalmers practiced medicine for many years, serving both at high-tech hospitals and as a community health worker in rural Norway. Together with Dr. Martinsen, she later co-founded Wellpride LLLP dba Omega3 Innovations and is the joint holder of several patents that facilitate the ingestion of multiple medication combinations. Today, she serves as the president of Omega3 Innovations.

View Comments

  • I've had eye issues for many years and recently started taking cod liver oil. It seems to be clearing out the drainage tube with constant tearing. The redness has diminished and I've only been taking it for three days now just before bed.

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