Dry eye syndrome and associated symptoms is a condition that affects millions of people around the world.
It can effect any race and gender but effects more women than men – usually from around the age of 40 and onwards.
The essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil has been shown to significantly help people suffering from the effects of dry eyes.
Possible Causes of Dry Eyes
For the eye to function properly it requires lubrication. We produce this lubrication through tear glands in and around the side of the eye. When we blink the tear drop is spread evenly over the surface of the eye (the cornea) to keep it moist.
Unfortunately for many, this process may be hampered, resulting in dry eyes:
- Not Enough Tears Being Produced.
Insufficient tears can occur through age – as we get older our production of tears slow down; as a result of certain medical conditions (such as Sjogren syndrome), or through taking various medications.
The environment can also play a part. Dry or windy climates can effect tear production by causing tears to evaporate very quickly.
If normal levels of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly, then the symptoms of dry eyes can occur.
- Poor Quality Tears.
The tear drop or tear film is made up as 3 different layers; mucus, water and oil.
The inner layer is the thinnest and is made of a very thin layer of mucus. This mucus helps spread the water part of the tear across the cornea of the eye.
The middle layer of the tear is the thickest part and is primarily water. This keeps the eye moist and helps remove any debris such as dust and grit from the eye.
The outer layer is made up of oil and fats which help to prevent the watery layer beneath it from evaporating.
The Role of Flaxseed Oil for Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye syndrome (DES), known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a result of inadequate water in the middle layer of the tear. However, the symptoms of DES can often be brought on due to a lack of protection from the outer layer of the tear (the oily part).
In today’s society our diet woefully lacks the amount of essential fatty acids our body needs for optimal health. This includes essential fatty acids in the form of omega-3 which are used to supply the outer tear film with the necessary fats to protect the water layer.
As we know, flaxseed oil is rich with essential fatty acids. Consuming flaxseed oil on a daily basis could very well reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
These finding are backed up by the American Optometric Association (AOA):
Using nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people.
There is a lot of help and some excellent resources online that you can turn to for advice, such as The Dry Eye Zone. This is a comprehensive resource dedicated to dry eye problems with a lot of treatment suggestions and a forum where fellow suffers can share their experiences.
Here’s what they say about the use of flaxseed oil and omega-3:
“It is widely believed that omega 3 essential fatty acids, of which North Americans in particular are believed to have a very low dietary intake normally, may have benefits for keeping the tear production system healthy.”
They recommend that flaxseed oil and/or fish oil be consumed to treat patients with dry eye, and acknowledge this form of supplementation as a “common additional treatment”.
Further Evidence on the Effectiveness of Flaxseed Oil for Dry Eyes
Here’s a great little video of a guy from the UK who has Bells Palsy and suffers from dry eyes. He has tried everything in relation to his condition and says that taking flaxseed oil has definitely helped his eyes. It’s worth a look:
A popular book on the subject is The Dry Eye Remedy by Robert Latkany MD ‘The complete guide to restoring the health and beauty if your eyes’.
It has very good reviews on Amazon from people who have benefited from the book.
Based on this research, it certainly seems that the essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil – namely the omega-3, may be particularly beneficial to sufferers of dry eye syndrome or the effects of dry eye.
It makes sense that it would, considering part of the tear that keeps the eyes moist, consists of fats and oils.
I would be very interested to hear if flaxseed oil has helped anyone suffering from dry eyes. Please let me know below or if you have any other comments.
- American Optometric Association (AOA) – Dry eye
- The Dry Eye Zone – Omega 3 EFA supplementation for dry eye