A fishy solution to dry eye
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A fishy solution to dry eye

It’s painful, frustrating, and affects nearly five million Americans age 50 and older, 60 percent of whom are women—particularly menopausal women. We are talking about dry eye.

Dry eye occurs when tear production is inadequate. Without enough tears, debris doesn’t get washed away, resulting in a gritty feeling in your eyes. It can be uncomfortable to say the least…not to mention annoying.

While dry eye won’t lead to vision loss, it can cause blurred sight, which reduce your tolerance for visual tasks, like working on the computer, reading, or doing close work such as knitting or the crossword puzzle.

Dry eye may or may not be accompanied by inflammation, and can be brought on by several possible factors, including:

  • Hormone deficiencies (namely estrogen)
  • Certain medications, including birth control pills, HRT, antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs
  • Allergies
  • Immune disorders

For many dry eye sufferers, over-the-counter artificial tears are simply a way of life. While these are often effective from a topical standpoint, research shows that there may also be a good internal solution—fish oil.

Fish oil tends to get a lot of attention for its heart-health benefits, but studies show that it has eye benefits as well. The key is the omega-3 fatty acid content, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Studies show that women with higher fish consumption have a lower risk of developing dry eye syndrome in women. Similarly, two separate studies—one published in Acta Ophthalmologica and the other in the Journal Francais D Ophthalmolgie—have found that fish oil supplements can benefit people suffering from dry eye. And yet study has shown that taking a supplement with both fish oil and flaxseed oil may reduce symptoms of dry eye and increase tear production.

If you are plagued by dry eye, consider increasing your intake of wild, cold-water fish, aiming for at least two to three times a week. You can also take fish oil supplements, ideally 1,000-2,000 mg daily.

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