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Best Supplements for Dry Eyes

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Dietary supplements are known to help fill the gaps in our nutrient intake. While research on supplements’ effects on dry eye is still actively being explored, early evidence shows that supplemental nutrients can positively impact dry eye symptoms.

If you notice dry eye symptoms, you should first visit your optometrist to ensure your eyes are healthy and get personalized advice on managing dry eye disease. Your optometrist may recommend supplements to support your eye health, including omega-3 and vitamins A, B12, and D.

What Is Dry Eye?

When your eyes don’t produce adequate tears or tear film isn’t doing its job, the moisture in your eyes can evaporate too quickly, leading to dry eye disease.

Your tear film consists of 3 layers:

  • The oily outer layer that delays tear evaporation
  • The watery mid-layer that hydrates the eyes and washes away debris
  • The inner layer of mucus that helps the tear film stick to the surface of the eye

When your eyes don’t make enough tears, or they evaporate too quickly, you can develop dry eyes.

Dry eye can result from natural aging, hormonal changes, difficulty with blinking, some medications, dysfunction of the tear glands, or certain environmental conditions.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Those with dry eye disease can develop a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Gritty sensation
  • Burning eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Excessive watering
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling that there’s a foreign object in your eye

Best Supplements for Dry Eye Disease

Right now, there are no definitive links between nutrients and eye conditions, so your optometrist won’t recommend supplements as the only treatment for dry eye. We may suggest supplements to help support your eye health while using other proven methods to ease dry eye symptoms.

According to preliminary findings, specific nutrients and vitamins are more likely to help with dry eye. Focusing on omega-3, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 may help alleviate symptoms of dry eye disease.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help reduce the rate of tear evaporation. An omega-3-rich diet or supplements may support the meibomian glands, which produce the oily outer layer of your tear film. Your eyes need that oily layer to keep tears from evaporating.

Soothing inflammation is another benefit of omega-3s. They may help reduce the scratchy irritation of dry eye disease. You can incorporate omega-3 fatty acids in your diet through fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, or soybeans. Of course, you can also get your daily dose from supplements.

A chalkboard with a written word ( Vitamin A) and a variety of fruits and  vegetables that are good sources od f vitamin A the table

Vitamin A

It’s well known that a vitamin A deficiency can lead to dry eye and other eye issues, so a boost of vitamin A can help keep your eyes healthy. You need vitamin A to produce eye-lubricating tears, and it can also improve tear quality.

Vitamin A is naturally found in animal-based foods, so those who are vegetarian, vegan, or simply don’t eat a diet full of animal by-products may need to take a supplement. However, too much vitamin A isn’t good for you either. Only take as much as is recommended by your doctor; it can build up in your body, resulting in toxicity.

Vitamin D

You’ve probably heard it before: you may need to take a vitamin D supplement. Most people don’t get enough sun, particularly in winter, and a lack of vitamin D plays a role in mental health. But vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to your dry eye symptoms.

Supplements can help reduce the inflammation associated with dry eye symptoms and have been found to improve the effectiveness of lubricating eye drops.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is thought to help with pain relief associated with dry eye symptoms, and a deficiency may be related to severe dry eye disease.

Researchers believe vitamin B12 may repair the nerves on the eye’s surface, the cornea, which can help reduce the burning sensation accompanying dry eyes.

Proven Methods to Treat Dry Eye Disease

Supplements can help support your body in several ways, but they can’t be the only treatment for health problems. Some tried and true remedies for dry eye alongside supplements can help relieve dry eye symptoms. Remedies may include:

  • Applying a warm compress to your eyelids can help soften oil blockages and soothe irritation or redness
  • Using artificial tears for lubrication
  • Using a humidifier
  • Taking breaks from screen time
  • Shielding your eyes from wind and smoke
  • Staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water

Find Dry Eye Relief 

To begin addressing the cause of your dry eyes, book an appointment with our team to assess your eyes for any underlying conditions and discuss potential dry eye therapies. With the right treatments, we can begin eliminating dry eye symptoms and help you live a more comfortable, healthy life.

Written by Lareina Yeung

Dr. Yeung graduated with her Honours Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees from the University of Waterloo in 2003. Upon graduation, she joined the team at Queensway Optometric Centre (QOC). In addition to her work at QOC, Dr. Yeung served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) for 7 years, where she chaired and participated in various committees. Dr. Yeung spent her final year at the OAO as Vice President and is a recipient of the OAO President’s Award for her outstanding contribution to the profession.
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