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The Benefits of Omega-3 Vitamins for Eye Health

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Your lifestyle, including your nutrition, can influence your health. You’ve been told to avoid excessive sugar, drink more water, and take vitamins to preserve your overall well-being. Your eyes are also affected by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Omega-3 is one supplement that can help support your eye health, especially if you experience dry eyes.

Dry eye disease is a common but uncomfortable condition, but the Aurora Eye Care team has the education and technology to diagnose and treat the cause of your dry eye. Lifestyle changes, dry eye therapy, and omega-3 supplements can be a part of eliminating uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

What Is Dry Eye?

Your tears do more than you may realize. They may fall when you’re sad, laughing, or joyful, but your tears are working all the time to keep your eyes lubricated and comfortable, and your vision clear.

It’s estimated that dry eye disease affects 21% of Canadians. Almost a quarter of Canadians are struggling with symptoms like:

  • Red eyes
  • Stinging or gritty feeling
  • Blurry vision
  • Foreign particle sensation in the eye
  • Overwatering of the eye
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Light sensitivity

Your tear film is well balanced with an oil layer, a water layer, and a mucus layer. The oil layer keeps the eye’s surface smooth and prevents the other tear layers from evaporating. The watery layer keeps the eye hydrated and washes away particles and debris. Meanwhile, the mucus layer ensures the whole tear mixture stays bonded to the eye.

The most common type of dry eye is evaporative dry eye, caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian gland produces the oily top layer of the tear film, and if the gland becomes blocked or inflamed, the oil production can slow or stop. If the tear film becomes unbalanced, your tears can evaporate too quickly, leading to dry eyes.

Despite the chronic nature of dry eye disease, your optometrist at Aurora Eye Care can help diagnose your dry eye during a comprehensive eye exam and begin treatments to melt away meibomian gland blockages.

If you’re looking for at-home dry eye support, adding omega-3 to your diet or daily vitamin intake can help complement the treatments performed at our dry eye clinic.

Woman scratching both of her eyes because of severe dry eyes

Omega-3 & Dry Eyes

Omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are critical for several bodily functions. They can help improve meibomian gland function by supporting the production of the oily layer of the tear film. An omega-3 supplement with its anti-inflammatory properties can also help ease uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

Up to 80% of adults don’t get the recommended daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids from their diet. But these fatty acids have been linked to health benefits for the brain and heart, and can protect against some chronic conditions. 

Many take fish oil supplements, but you can get your omega-3 fatty acids by adding fish to your diet, including:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Lake trout
  • Herring

If you decide to incorporate an omega-3 supplement into your regimen, discuss your options with our optometrists at Aurora Eye Care for recommendations. 

Flaxseed Oil

For those eating a plant-based diet, short-chain omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) can be found in flaxseed oil and chia seeds. The body needs to transform ALA into EPA and DHA, but less than 15% of ALA can make the conversion, so long-chain omega-3, like those found in fish, are preferable.

Are All Omega-3 Supplements the Same?

The drugstore’s vitamin aisle has a wall of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements of different brands, selling the same product. But these supplements aren’t necessarily right for your eyes. 

In Canada, the supplement industry has little to no regulation, meaning Health Canada doesn’t extend oversight to these products like they do food and drugs.

So, even though you can walk up to the omega-3 shelf at the store and grab a bottle, it doesn’t mean you should.

Medical grade omega-3 supplements (such as our TG Gold Omega-3 capsules) are highly purified and have a higher concentration of EPA and DHA than over-the-counter supplements. They also have better absorption in the body as they have an additional purification step beyond the ethyl ester form, which means that a lower dose of medical grade omega-3 supplements can be as effective as a higher dose of over-the-counter supplements. The difference can be needing up to 40 over-the-counter capsules to get the benefit of 3 medical grade capsules. 

In addition, medical grade omega-3 supplements undergo rigorous testing to ensure their purity and safety. They do not have the fishy odour or after-taste commonly found with over-the-counter supplements. 

Aurora Eye Care’s optometrists have the knowledge necessary to select the type and brand of omega-3 supplements to support your ocular health and relieve dry eye symptoms.

Book a comprehensive eye exam to assess your overall eye health and vision. Speak to our optometrists about your dry eye symptoms, discuss potential treatments, and get some lifestyle tips you can implement at home between appointments.

Written by Dr. Kyla Hunter

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