A number of studies have shown that taking 2g of omega 3 a day is beneficial for people with dry eyes. The omega 3 is usually sourced from fish oil, flaxseed oil or a combination of the two. It works in a number of different ways; it decreases inflammation, it increases the quality of the lipid layer in the tears and it is also thought to stimulate aqueous tear production.
It is important to use a supplement that is of good quality and that is providing the correct amount of the active ingredients. The triglyceride form of omega 3 is preferred as it is thought to be more readily absorbed than the synthetic ethyl ester form. In addition, be sure to avoid “Lignan-rich Flaxseed oil” as this form contains phytoestrogens which can make dry eyes worse.
The key active ingredients are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). So when taking these supplements it is 2 grams of EPA and DHA you are aiming for. This is not the weight of the tablet, it is the weight of the active ingredient in the tablet. For example, you have may have a good quality, triglyceride type fish oil supplements which comes in 1 gram soft gel capsules that contain 500mg of EPA and DHA, in which case you would need to take 4 capsules per day. So it is important to check the ingredients carefully.
I prefer to recommend omega 3 supplements that are specifically targeting eye health such as Thera Tears Nutrition and the recommended dosage fulfils the required omega 3 levels. In the USA Nordic Naturals and PRN are good options. Taking either Borage Oil or Evening Primrose Oil at the same time as taking the omega 3 supplement is also thought to be beneficial.
I have clients who have done nothing other than take omega 3 supplements and their dry eye symptoms have improved dramatically. On the other hand, I have clients for whom those supplements seem to make little or no difference. It does take a while to kick in so we usually expect at least 6-8 weeks before any noticeable difference.
It is important to discuss taking omega 3 with your health care provider as it has blood thinning properties so should not be taken when there are certain blood disorders present, and only under the advice of your practitioner if you’re already on blood thinning medications.