Fish Oil or Flaxseed Oil for Dry Eye?

Dry Eye portland orIf you saw last month’s blog, we talked about dry eye, the condition where your eyes either produce tears of poor quality that evaporate too quickly or simply don’t produce enough tears to keep the eyes lubricated. One of the emerging treatments for dry eye is fish oil.

 

We’ve also had our Portland patients ask about flaxseed oil as a remedy for dry eye. They want to know which oil is better for our eyes — fish oil or flaxseed oil.

 

Let’s get into this a little bit in this month’s blog.

 

Both oils

 

Both flaxseed oil and fish oil contain important dietary fatty acids that have lots of health benefits, improving dry eye among them. Some of these other benefits are reduction of chronic inflammation that leads to osteoarthritis and Alzheimer’s and a lower risk of heart disease.

 

When it comes to our eyes, both of these oils also reduce the symptoms of dry eye: they lessen burning, stinging, redness, and occasional blurred vision. There is some new research that says these fatty acids may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

 

Fish versus flax

 

Now let’s get into the differences between fish oil and flaxseed oil. Fish oils and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, lake trout) are great sources for omega-3 fats. Fish fat contains “long chain” omega-3s (EPA and DHA), which are the omega-3 fats the body loves for various functions, including eye health.

 

In contrast, plant foods such as flaxseed contain “short chain” ALA omega-3 fat. These must be converted to EPA and DHA in the body to become useful for the eyes. When you eat plant foods, the body converts only about 5 percent of dietary ALA into essential EPA and DHA. That’s not much.

 

Also, most Americans eat too much omega-6 fatty acids. These are found in vegetable oils used in most snacks and prepared foods (packaged, frozen, restaurant, or take-out). Omega-6 fatty acids further reduce the amount of ALA from plant foods that gets converted to EPA and DHA. Omega-6 fats also blunt the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids obtained from fish and fish oil.

 

So, the bottom line is that fish oil is a better way to go than flaxseed oil for treating your dry eyes. Plus, wouldn’t you rather eat a nice piece of grilled salmon or trout than munch a bunch of flaxseeds?

 

If you have any symptoms of dry eye, getting more omega-3 fatty acids is a good idea. Another good idea is come to see us at The Eye Clinic so that we can pinpoint the cause of your dry eye. Call us at (503) 297-4718 to make your appointment.

Posted in: Dry Eyes

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