The use of this substance does make some sense as higher dietary intake of fish oil is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dry eyes. A pilot study also suggests that this product might improve subjective symptoms of dry eye compared to placebo and might increase tear secretion.
One of the researchers from the study markets their own proprietary blend of flaxseed and fish oil capsules … TheraTears Nutrition. Althought there’s no proof this supplement or any other works for dry eyes, some patients report that they help … and for most it won’t hurt.
But, it may have side effects in some … as flaxseed can increase the risk of bleeding with anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents … and increase the risk of hypoglycemia with antidiabetic meds. So care needs to be taken in these patients.
Prescriber’s Letter tells us doctors, “Explain to patients that this is promising, but preliminary. Although this product may help, it’s not a replacement for conventional treatments.”
However, the most common OTC therapy is artificial tears, but it often doesn’t work well and may only provide temporary relief.
Also, some experts are encouraging increased dietary intake of fatty fish and nuts … because it’s good for many reasons … preventing heart disease, macular degeneration, etc. The thought is that if it happens to helps dry eyes too, then so much the better.
Lastly, Prescriber’s Letter tells us, “Explain to patients that if they decide to try supplements, it may take a few months before they notice an effect. Recommend using artificial tears for relief in the meantime.”
For my patients using artificial tears, I tell them that the closer to ointment-like an artificial tears formulation is the longer it relieves symptoms … but the more it blurs vision. So, I recommend “thicker” formulations for use before bedtime … and “thinner” ones for use during the day. Your pharmacist can help you find products.
Last, but not least, consider Restasis (cyclosporine) eye drops for tough cases when nothing seems to help. But it costs around $250 per month … and can be tough to get approved by insurers.