Common treatments for dry eyes include over-the-counter eye drops and anti-inflammatory drugs. But some people are turning to alternative remedies like fish oil for relief. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be necessary in healthy eye and brain development. Keep reading to learn how fish oil can help treat your dry eyes.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is made by extracting two types of omega-3 fatty acid from the skin of oily fish, like mackerel or salmon. These omega-3 fatty acids are called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are important for several functions in the body. DHA and EPA are part of every cell in the human body. They are also the building blocks of important chemical regulators. The World Health Organization suggests that adults get between 0.3 and 0.5 grams of DHA and EPA per day.

You can find fish oil supplements in capsule or liquid form over-the-counter at most drug stores.

What are the benefits of fish oil?

Benefits

  • Studies suggest that the omega-3s in fish oil may help treat dry eyes because of their anti-inflammatory properties
  • Omega-3s can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Omega-3s may also help manage your triglyceride levels.

Taking in a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids has a host of benefits, including a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids also help manage your triglyceride levels, and may slow the progression of depression and other mental illnesses. There are also some reported benefits for people who have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in treating dry eyes because of their proven anti-inflammatory properties. In one 2013 study, 65 percent of people with dry eye syndrome who were treated with omega-3s saw major improvements within three months.

What are the risks of fish oil?

Risks

  • A recent study claims that certain fatty acids may cause prostate cancer.
  • Some studies suggest that fish oil isn’t beneficial for heart health.
  • Researchers have mixed opinions about the benefits of fish oil.

Some controversy exists over the true benefits of fish oil and the risks that it has. One recent study claims that certain fatty acids may cause prostate cancer. At the same time, other research has not found this link to cancer.

There is much research to suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are beneficial to heart health. A study published in The Lancet found that people who took daily omega-3 supplements after experiencing a heart attack had a lower risk of experiencing another. They also had a reduced risk of stroke or sudden death. However, more recent studies suggest that when a person already has heart disease, fish oil doesn’t help.

With this difference of professional opinion, you should always talk to your doctor first before taking fish oil.

What are good sources of fish oil?

When you hear the term “fish oil,” you might picture a little yellow gel capsule. Supplements are certainly one way to add fish oil to your diet. Yet some researchers believe that your diet should be your main source for omega-3 fatty acids. You can get them by eating fatty fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, and mackerel. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least two servings of fish per week.

If you eat fish on a weekly basis, you probably get enough fish oil in your diet. Getting a steady amount of omega-3 fatty acids is the important thing. You can find these fatty acids in other foods like walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

Other treatments for dry eyes

Medical treatments

A common prescription treatment for dry eyes is cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory drug. Alternatively, you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory eye drops. Along with cyclosporine, there are several kinds of medications that can help treat inflammation. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to close the drainage system of your eyes. This will allow any tears you produce to pool in the eyes for a longer period of time.

Over-the-counter treatments

There are many over-the-counter solutions for mild dry eyes. If your contacts are causing dry eyes, you may simply need to change the brand. You can also try artificial tear eye drops. There are ointments, gels, and gel inserts that can offer temporary relief and supply your eyes with lubrication.

Lifestyle changes

Limiting tear evaporation is one way to prevent dry eyes. For instance, you can wear sunglasses or glasses that wrap around the head. If you add side shields, your tears won’t evaporate as quickly. You may also consider a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to the air. Use basic eye drops for lubrication when working at the same task for long periods of time. It’s important to take regular breaks from computers and screens.

Alternative treatments

You can also prevent dry eyes with natural remedies. Aside from fish oil, many people have found relief from dry eyes with acupuncture treatment. Castor oil eye drops can also be used to reduce tear evaporation. However, more research needs to be done in this area.  

Takeaway

In general, fish oil may have some benefits for dry eyes. But you don’t have to take fish oil supplements to get the omega-3 fatty acids that you need. The best way is to eat a healthy diet that includes at least two servings of fish per week. You should also talk to your doctor about other treatments for dry eyes, such as prescription medications, eye drops, and lifestyle changes.