Fight dry eyes with omega-3s

In addition to helping build muscle mass and improve physical performance (see page X), omega-3s have many benefits for the brain, heart, and immune system.

And now, a new study shows they may also help with dry eyes.

Dry eyes can be caused by simple strain from staring at computer, cellphone, or TV screens. They also may be the result of moisture imbalance, especially in women as they get older. And people who wear contact lenses can suffer from dry eyes as well.

The new research comes from India, where they should certainly know about dry eyes caused by too much screen time. It seems every time I have a problem with a computer or the Internet, I end up talking with someone from India. By the time I am done, I feel like ordering out for tandoori.

The researchers recruited 478 people who sat in front of a computer screen for at least three hours a day over the course of a year or longer. They randomly divided the participants into two groups. One group took daily omega-3 supplements containing 240 mg of DHA and 360 mg of EPA (the active ingredients in fish oil). The other group got a placebo.1

After three months, 70 percent of the omega-3 group didn’t have dry eyes, compared to only 15 percent of the placebo group. The omega-3 group also had improved overall eye health compared to the placebo group.

Dry eyes involve a number of factors, including the composition of tear fluids as well as the surface of the eye itself. Basically, the researchers believe that taking omega-3s helps reduce the rate of tear evaporation, rather than increasing the amount of tears the eyes produce. And that helps relieve dry eyes.

I suggest taking more fish oil than used in the study—not only for eye health, but also for protection against heart disease, dementia, skin disorders, and other conditions that omega-3s have been shown to improve.

My recommendation: 1 or 2 grams of a high-quality fish oil every day.


1“Oral omega-3 fatty acids treatment in computer vision syndrome related dry eye.”

Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2015 Jun;38(3):206-10.