You’ve been at your desk all day, and your eyes are burning, your vision is blurry, and the light is killing you. All you want to do is close your eyes to get some relief. Believe me, we’ve all been there. Doctors call this condition dry eye, and it’s no fun at all.
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to get relief, both immediate and for the long-term. Here’s everything you need to know about this uncomfortable condition, including how to use fish oil and flaxseed oil for dry eyes.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The natural tears your eyes produce contain a combination of water, mucus, and fatty oils. If your tear production is too low, or your tears are evaporating too quickly, the result is tired, dry eyes.
Dry eye can be caused by age-related macular degeneration, certain medications, chronic health conditions, or chronic inflammation of the tear ducts. It can also occur when your eyes are exposed to dry air for long periods of time.
Many people have dry eye symptoms when their cell membranes dry out on airplanes, in air-conditioned rooms, or when they spend a lot of time staring at a smartphone or computer screen. It’s also a common side effect of Lasik eye surgery.
Dry eye symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. They often include:
- A burning, stinging, or scratchy feeling in your eyes.
- Blurred vision/tired eyes.
- Watery eyes.
- Difficulty seeing at night.
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses.
- Light sensitivity.
- Mucus in or around the eyes.
Traditional treatment of dry eye includes things like lubricating eye drops or artificial tears, making the switch from contact lenses to glasses, or simply taking a break from staring at a computer screen.
Although these are all helpful to some degree, the benefits are usually only temporary. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may provide longer-lasting relief and prevention of dry eye symptoms.
The best sources of omega-3 are fish oil and flaxseed oil, in either food or supplement form.
Relieving Dry Eyes with Fish Oil
The human body cannot produce omega-3s on its own, so we must get them through diet or supplements. Fish oil is a wonderful source of essential fatty acids. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the two long-chain fatty acids found in fish oil, and they have some pretty powerful health benefits.
EPA and DHA, from sources like fatty fish or fish oil supplements, are essential nutrients for brain function and lowering the risk of heart disease. They also have significant anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body.
When it comes to your eye health, these omega-3 fatty acids support the production of tear film from the meibomian glands (small glands located at the edge of the eyelid) which relieves dry eye symptoms.
Increasing your intake of fatty fish, like sardines, is a good way to get more omega-3s in your diet. If you don’t like fish, you can also take a fish oil supplement as part of your daily supplement regimen.
According to the American Heart Association, everyone should eat fish at least twice per week.
Flaxseed Oil for Dry Eyes
Flaxseed oil is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans and vegetarians. Flaxseed oil supplements offer the same benefits for eye health that fish oil does.
However, flaxseed oil is not as efficient as fish oil because it does not contain EPA and DHA. Instead, it contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body must convert into EPA and DHA.
To enjoy the benefits of flaxseed oil for dry eyes, try including flaxseed oil capsules in your daily supplement regimen, or add ground flaxseeds to your morning smoothie.
Fish Oil vs Flaxseed Oil: Which One is Better for Dry Eyes?
Although they are both beneficial, fish oil is probably the better choice for dry eyes and overall health. It contains natural EPA and DHA, so it’s much more efficient than flaxseed oil.
However, some people experience stomach upset when they take fish oil. Others are allergic or on special diets. In these cases, flaxseed oil is certainly a viable alternative to fish oil.
Other Supplements for Dry Eyes and Better Eye Health
There are some other supplements that may be beneficial for eye health and relieving dry eye syndrome, too. They include:
It’s always a good idea to consult with your health care professional before introducing a new supplement to your routine, especially if you have a health condition or take medication. Using fish oil and flaxseed oil for dry eyes is a great way to get lasting relief. However, if your dry eye symptoms persist or become severe, consult with your ophthalmologist for additional recommendations.