Omega-3 for Improvement of Dry Eye Symptoms

Omega-3 essential fatty acids (O-3s) are good fats our bodies need for good health, and can also protect against disease and treat illness. We must consume O-3s daily from food and supplements.

The two O-3s critical for wellness and disease prevention are EPA and DHA. These are primarily found in certain fish. The third O-3, ALA, found in plant sources such as nuts, flax, and seeds, is poorly converted to EPA and DHA, and is less beneficial. Not only does our body need these fatty acids to function, but they also deliver some significant health benefits including:

•Lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure which may lower ones risk for heart disease.

• EPA and DHA can help alieve stiffness and joint pain associated with arthritis and may boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

• May lower levels of depression and boost the effects of antidepressants.

• DHA appears to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.

• Lowers inflammation.

• May reduce symptoms of ADHD and improve mental skills like thinking, remembering, and learning.

• May have a positive effect on memory loss linked to aging and some protection against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

• Re-esterified O-3s (EPA and DHA) can significantly improve the signs and symptoms associated with Dry Eye Disease.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Always consult your doctor before beginning any daily supplements.

Aim to eat fish high in DHA and EPA O-3s two to three times a week. These include sardines, anchovies, salmon, lake trout, and tuna. Wild fish usually has more O-3s than farmed raised fish. Fatty fish is also more likely to have higher levels of mercury and other toxins. These include mackerel, wild swordfish, tilefish, and shark. Farm-raised fish of any type may also have higher levels of contaminants.

Most authorities recommend 1-2 grams of EPA / DHA consumption daily for good health maintenance, and more for people with chronic medical conditions. This is near impossible to achieve through diet and without supplementation.

Not all Omega 3s are the same. O-3 supplements are made using a distillation process mixing extracted oils and ethanol. The resulting O-3s are purified, but have been transformed from a natural triglyceride to an ethyl ester form. Most O-3 products are sold in this form to keep costs down. Unfortunately, ethyl ester forms are not readily absorbed by our bodies so their benefits are reduced and result in more digestive unpleasantness like indigestion, fish burbs and gas.

A small handful of manufacturers add an additional and costly re-esterification step to return the oil to a cleaned natural triglyceride form (same as in the fish), which is better and more easily absorbed by our body. Higher rates of absorption means your O-3 is more effective. This also minimizes any unpleasant digestive side effects.

It’s very important to compare apples to apples when purchasing omega-3 supplements. Read the label on your O-3 container to make certain you’re receiving a satisfactory dosage. You may find non-re-esterified triglyceride O-3 sold for less, but you’ll probably have to take twice the dosage or more to receive the same EPA/ DHA levels. The end result is the “cheaper” O-3 may be more expensive, less effective, and have more negative side effects.

To combat Dry Eye Disease, a daily dosage of at least 2200mg of EPA/DHA O-3s in the re-esterified triglyceride form is recommended.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Finley or one of the other experienced and friendly doctors at Dr. Finley’s Family Eyecare, call (703) 471-7810 or visit

Thomas Finley
Dr. Thomas P. Finley received his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, and his Doctorate of Optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Following graduation, he served as an optometry officer in the United States Air Force and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Commendation Medal. Dr. Finley has served as an adjunct clinical professor for three optometry schools, and has been a clinical investigator for two major contact lens companies. He has published several articles in professional and trade journals and local newspapers and has also lectured at educational conferences. Dr. Finley is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow of the Virginia Academy of Optometry, and a member of the American Optometric Association, Virginia Optometric Association, and Northern Virginia Optometric Society. He is an Advisory Board member for TLC Laser Eye Centers. Locally, Dr. Finley serves as an active member of the Herndon Rotary Club (past president), Chamber of Commerce (past board member), Optimist Club (youth sports’ coach), and Knights of Columbus (past board member). He serves on the board of the Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic. He was awarded Herndon’s “Distinguished Service Award,” the Chamber of Commerce’s “Small Business of the Year Award,” and The Times Newspapers “Best Eye Doctor Award.” He has owned his Herndon optometry practice since 1989. Dr. Finley was recently recognized by the Virginia Optometric Association as Distinguished Optometrist of the Year.