I am here to bring the latest information on eye health and medicine. I also
have a master’s degree in nutrition. So today’s topic is very dear to
In today’s article, you’ll learn why you should take
omega-3 fish oil supplements for dry eyes. How to pick the best
omega-3 oil you? and also my top three recommended oil supplements for
treating dry eyes.
Why you should take Omega-3 Fish oil supplements if you have Dry Eyes
The tears on the surface of our eyes have 3 different layers. The lipid
layer, the aqueous layer, and the mucin layer. The lipid layer of the tear
film is the outermost layer and its function is to prevent the liquid
portion of the tears from evaporating too fast.
It contains mainly meibum oil which is produced by the oil glands in our
eyelids called meibomian glands. Therefore if the meibomian glands are not
working properly due to inflammation or clogging or if the meibum oil is too
thick or has abnormal composition, the lipid layer of the tear film may
either contain too little oil or poor quality of the oil, and it will not
This results in your eyes getting dry due to rapid evaporation of the
tears. This condition is called meibomian glands dysfunction, and it is one
of the most common causes of dry eye disease.
Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 oil supplements can
decrease inflammation of the meibomian glands, improving meibum oil
flow into the tear film as well as improving the quality of meibum oil. That
is why omega-3 oil supplements are commonly recommended by eye doctors for
treating dry eye disease.
How do you Pick the Best Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement for you?
When we go to a pharmacy or even a grocery store, the number of choices for omega-3 fish oil supplements available over-the-counter can be overwhelming. So how do you pick the best omega-3 fish oil supplement for you?
Omega-3 oil supplements, just like other dietary supplements, are not regulated by the FDA. So the quality and composition can vary greatly among different products. Let’s talk about some key things to look for in good quality omega-3 fish oil supplements.
Most of the key information you are looking for to differentiate different types of omega-3 fish oil supplements is listed on the supplement facts label, which is typically located at the back of the package.
The first thing you should look at is the types of fatty acids contained in the supplements. You are looking for the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, and specifically, the amount of EPA and DHA contained in the product.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are three primary omega-3 fatty acids in our diet, ALA, EPA, and DHA. Among these three types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA have significantly more anti-inflammatory properties than ALA.
While ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in our body, only 5 to 10% of dietary ALA is converted into EPA and DHA. You want to pay attention to the amount of EPA and DHA contained in each serving of the product.
Studies have shown that daily supplementation of 2000 mg of combined EPA and DHA is effective in treating dry eye disease. However, the amount of omega-3 fatty acids needed to treat dry eye disease can not simply be obtained by just eating fish due to the number of toxins contained in fish such as mercury and lead.
The amount of fish that you would need to consume daily to treat dry eye disease could pose a significant risk of mercury poisoning.
The second thing you are looking for is the form of EPA and DHA that the product contains. Significantly, you are looking for the triglyceride form of EPA and DHA and not the ethyl ester form.
Studies have shown that the triglyceride form of omega-3 oil can have up to 70% better absorption than the ethyl ester form. For example, in this type of fish oil supplement, you can easily get it from a big-box store.
Omega-3 fatty acids contained in this product are in ethyl ester form. omega-3 fatty acids in natural unprocessed fish oil are in the triglyceride form in order to remove toxins such as mercury and lead from the raw fish oil.
It is often processed with ethyl alcohol which converts the omega-3 fatty acids into the ethyl ester form. But it needs to be converted back into the natural triglyceride form to improve the absorption in our body. So in summary, it is important to pick omega-3 oil supplements that contain adequate amounts of EPA and DHA that are in the triglyceride form.
The third thing to look out for is the source of the fish oil used in your omega-3 supplement. Both farm-raised and wild-caught fish can be used to make omega-3 fish oil. But oil from wild-caught fish typically contains a higher concentration of the desired omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Fish oil sourced from farm-raised fish is typically much cheaper. So why can’t you just take more servings of the cheaper supplements to get the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids?
Fish that are farm-raised and fed with grain typically contain a higher concentration of omega 6 and other fatty acids which may be harmful or pro-inflammatory. Let’s say supplement A contains 2400mg of fish oil, 600mg of which are EPA and DHA.
You would need to take almost 3.5 servings of supplement A to get the recommended 2000mg of EPA and DHA along with 6300mg of the less healthy and possibly harmful other oils and the calories from those oils.
In addition, the fish oil obtained from fish that are farm-raised and fed with grain may possibly contain pollutants and chemicals that may not be found in wild-caught fish. Not all manufacturers will specify the type of fish they used to source their fish oil on the package.
So you may need to do a little bit of research on your own to find out the source of the fish used in a given product.
Best 3 Omega-3 oil Supplements that I recommend for my Patients
1. Nordic Natural Ultimate Omega
Number one nordic naturals ultimate omega liquid form. I recommend this product because each serving contains 1460 mg of EPA, 1010 mg of DHA, both are in the triglyceride form.
The fish source is wild-caught deep-sea fish from sustainable sources according to the company. And the toxins levels in this product are significantly below the maximum allowance set by the different regulatory agencies.
I usually prefer liquid omega-3 oil supplements over capsules, because various materials can be used to manufacture the capsular shell, and some can decrease the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids in our body such as methacrylic acid copolymer.
2. PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits
Number two PRN dry eye omega benefits liquid form. This is actually the supplement that I personally take. I would have listed this product as number one if weren’t for the slightly higher price with the PRN products.
For a 10 oz bottle, this one typically costs about $108, and the nordic natural product costs about $72 for an 8-ounce bottle. So it’s about $1.80 per oz difference. I really like the PRN dry eye omega benefits because each serving contains 1680 mg of a triglyceride form of EPA and 560 mg of a triglyceride form of DHA.
Also, PRN has stated that they are committed to using sustainable sources for their fish oil. And that they maintain strict testing criteria for purity and toxins.
3. PRN Omega-V Benefits
Number three PRN omega-v benefits. This is one for my vegetarian and vegan readers or those with dietary restrictions. This is a vegan product that still contains a high concentration of triglyceride form of EPA and DHA.
The source of omega-3 fatty acids in this product is algae, which is the main food source for many fish. Each serving contains 330 mg EPA and 670 mg of DHA.
There are limited choices in high-quality omega-3 oil supplements for vegetarians and vegans, or people who limit their consumption of fish or fish products, and this supplement can provide them with a good amount of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids.
Oil from algae is thought to be significantly better than flaxseed oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. The main form of omega-3 fatty acids contained in flaxseed oil is ALA.
As I mentioned before the conversation of ALA to the effective forms of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are less than 5 to 10% in our body. This makes flaxseed oil a much less effective source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Please remember to always consult with your doctor before taking any high dose of omega-3 oil supplements, to make sure that they are safe and right for you.