Omega 3 Supplements and Dry Eye Syndrome
Burning, stinging, redness, light-sensitivity…these are just a few of the annoying symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES). The increased use of digital devices, which exacerbate dry eye symptoms due to a decrease in the natural blink rate by more than 60%, has caused an increase in DES over the last several years. That, combined with the chronic nature of this syndrome, has fueled a lot of research in this area which has revealed that DES is an inflammatory process.
A healthy tear film, which has the right mixture of water and oils, is essential for good vision and ocular comfort. Dry eye symptoms develop when the quality of this tear film is not optimal. There are many causes for this, so there are many treatments as well. Which treatment is appropriate largely depends on the underlying cause. Often, several treatments are combined in a personalized regimen. Arguably the most effective of the many dry eye treatments available today are those that help the body produce healthier tears. The most commonly known treatments which accomplish this are Restasis and more recently, Xiidra eye drops. The way that these treatments work is to reduce the inflammatory processes that cause the decrease in the quality of the ocular tear film.
It’s been long known that an increased intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), has also led to a reduction of inflammation in many chronic systemic diseases, such as arthritis. This finding led researchers to study the effects of Omega 3 fatty acids in patients with dry eye syndrome. The results of these studies were overwhelmingly positive with a large number of patients having a decrease in dry eye symptoms and some patients even becoming completely asymptomatic.
The key to the effectiveness of omega 3 fatty acids in reducing the symptoms of dry eyes is twofold: obtaining the right ratio of omega 6 (polyunsaturated fats) to omega 3 fatty acids (essential fatty acids) and ensuring the body’s optimal absorption of these fatty acids. Most Western diets are much higher in polyunsaturated fats, with an average of 15.9:1, whereas the ideal ratio should be about 3:1.* This balance has been shown to be instrumental in the reduction of inflammation in the body which can decrease the risk of systemic disease such as breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and more recently, DES. Since our diets are naturally high in omega 6 fatty acids, increasing our intake of omega 3 fatty acids is necessary to improve this ratio.
Dr. Mandel has long known about the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and as a result, has been recommending fish oil pills to his patients for many years. In a review of recent research, Dr. Mandel found the body’s absorption of these supplements may be the key to their effectiveness and found a brand of fish oil pills which specifically addresses this: Physician Recommended Nutraceuticals (PRN’s).
PRN’s are omega 3 supplements in re-esterified triglyceride form. This means these fish oil pills have an extra step in the purification process compared to other brands. In this extra step, alcohol (ester) is removed, which further purifies the supplement so it’s more easily absorbed by the body. An even more attractive benefit for patients is that this process also significantly decreases the fishy after-taste that is a common complaint with other brands.
Of course, Dr. Mandel recommends consulting your physician before you start taking any additional supplements, to ensure that they are safe for you.
For the convenience of our patients, we sell PRN supplements in our office. Please call our office at 888-866-3681 for further information.
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