By Dr. Chalise Maybee, optometrist – Are your eyes perpetually red? Do your eyes tear throughout the day? Do your eyes burn or feel tired?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have dry eye disease.
Although dry eye may feel and sound like a minor inconvenience, if not treated, it can lead to long-term problems. Dry eye disease is a multifactorial disease that can affect anyone, but is more prevalent in women and those with specific autoimmune conditions. Dry eye disease is characterized by a compromised tear film and inflammation on the front surface of the eye and eyelid.
Artificial tears are often a first line of therapy for dry eye disease, but they may only provide temporary and incomplete relief of symptoms. This makes our patients ask, what else can we do?
With increased awareness in nutrition and wellness, many are interested in treating their dry eye symptoms through diet or supplementation.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be beneficial in maintaining good heart health, regulating cholesterol, improving brain function and relieving those who are affected by osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis. They may also be the solution to your dry eye problems. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. Your body NEEDS them to function but cannot make them on their own. You need to consume them through diet or supplementation.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA) are the three Omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Optometric Association, the average American consumes 0.1-0.2 grams of EPA and DHA per day. This is much less than the American Heart Association’s recommended value of 0.5-1.0 grams.
EPA and DHA have remarkable anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation plays a big role in dry eye disease. In a randomized and controlled trial of Omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye, 65 percent of symptomatic patients in the Omega-3 group reported that their symptoms resolved completely and 35 percent had moderate improvement within three months.
Foods with EPA, DHA and ALA Omega-3 fatty acids:
- EPA and DHA
- English walnuts
If you have a hard time fitting these into your diet, or fish isn’t your thing, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are available in oil or capsule form.
However you wish to treat your dry eye symptoms, the Eclectic Eye team is happy to help you along the way!