Category Archives: dry eye

Does Flax Seed Oil Have a Role in the Treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome

For strict dietary vegans flax meal may be the only option of increasing the omega 3 fatty acids, albeit an inefficient one. However, for most people flax seed oil’s role is very limited in the treatment of dry eye syndrome. Flax seed meal on the other hand may have a limited role. The biggest disadvantages to using flax seed oil is that you can’t cook with it (it is not stable above 160° F), it must be refrigerated and it has a short shelf life. Flax seed meal, on the other, hand can be used as a shortening substitute, has a very high fiber content, has a much longer shelf life and can be used in baking. Therefore, I would only recommend flax seed oil over omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish if someone did not like the texture of the flax seed meal or flax meal would be inappropriate in a particular recipe.

One of the best uses of flax seed meal is its high fiber content therefore, I would recommend flax seed meal in baking to increase our dietary fiber and any ALA (alpha linolenic acid) converted to the omega fatty acids is just an extra bonus. In addition, flax seeds are not digested by our bodies and should not be considered as a dietary source of fiber or omega 3 fatty acids. The flax seed’s shell is very hard and must be crushed if our bodies are to utilize it. Therefore, if you must rely on flax as a source of omega 3 fatty acids utilize flax seed meal.

This article is the fourth and final article in a series on Omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment of dry eye syndrome.

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Which is a Better Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids Fish Oil or Flax Seed Meal

The short answer, without question is fish oil. We have found better results by eliminating the flax seed oil and greatly increasing the EPA and DHA (we like 2000 mg to 3000 mg of EPA and DHA combined). Flax seed oil is very unstable and thus has a short shelf life at room temperature. Flax seed oil also does not contain omega 3 fatty acids, instead our bodies must convert the ALA (alpha linolenic acid) contained within the flax seed into the omega 3 fatty acids that can then be used by our bodies. Another disadvantage to flax seed oil is that our body’s conversion of flax seed oil to EPA or DHA is very inefficient. The conversion ALA to EPA/DHA rate has been reported to be between 4% and 15% (worse for DHA than EPA and lower for men than women). A person’s conversion rate can vary based on many factors. Therefore, fish is a much better and efficient source of omega 3 fatty acids.

This article is the third in the four part series on using omega 3 fatty acids in treating dry eye syndrome

Selecting the Right Fish Oil Capsule for Dry Eye Relief

As eye doctors we recommend that our patients with dry eyes increase their dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Our typical dosage is 2000 mg to 3000 mg in a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This translates into 4 oz of wild, Atlantic salmon per day. Regardless of how much we like salmon we probably don’t want it every day no matter how many different ways there are to fix it, therefore fish oil capsules are a necessary dietary supplement. Unfortunately, not all fish oil capsules are created equal. Often inferior and/or low dose varieties cause “fish burp” and indigestion while others can not be efficiently used by our bodies. Here is an article on how to evaluate the different types of omega 3 fish oil capsules.

This article is the second of a four part series on using omega 3 fatty acids in treating dry eye syndrome

Study Shows 70% of Dry Eye Patients Improve with Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

A hot topic currently in medicine revolves around the multiple benefits of increasing the Omega 3 Fatty Acids in our western diets. At Total Eye Care we have recommended increasing the essential fatty acids in our diet for many years. A pilot study, conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, on the efficacy Omega 3 Fatty Acids in the treatment of dry eye syndrome was published in the journal Cornea. 36 patients with dry eye syndrome were involved in the study. The control group was given a placebo and the study group was given a daily dose of 450 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 300 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and 1000 mg of flaxseed oil. The patient’s symptoms and objective findings were assessed at baseline and then again 90 days later.

The objective findings suggested that there was increased tear production as well as an improvement in fluorophotometry (the assessment of the tears with fluorescein dye), however more importantly 70% of the study group experienced an improvement in their symptoms versus only 7% of the control group. This data compares well with what we see clinically at Total Eye Care.

This article is the first in a four part series on using omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment of dry eye syndrome

Good Morning America Investigates LASIK Complications

Good Morning America reports that the American Academy of Ophthalmology states 90% of patients achieve 20/20 vision following laser vision correction.  What the AAO report does not address is that 20/20 does not mean that the patients have a good quality of visual acuity.  The Good Morning America Video (video at the end) interviews both satisfied and unsatisfied patients.  Some patients complain of a worsening of their dry eye symptoms, halos or shadows, glare or starbursting, poor night vision, reduced contrast or simply uncorrectable blurry vision.  The vast majority of the patients that have had LASIK or PRK are happy with the result.   However, laser vision correction is not reversible and some of the resultant problems from refractive surgery are not resolvable.

Options available to patients that are not happy with their surgical result, of course depend on the symptom.  Some of the options available to patients are:

Post Surgical Contact Lenses

These special contact lenses are available as soft contacts, as gas permeable lenses and as a combination soft/gas permeable.  Post refractive surgery contact lenses are usually used when a patients vision can not be corrected by additional surgery, glasses or regular contact lenses because their corneal surface has become slightly irregular or distorted.  The symptoms may include, blurry vision, halos and shadows.

Dry Eye Syndrome

The most common complaint following refractive surgery is dry eyes.  Most often the dryness improves two to six months following surgery.  Ocular dryness can also cause blurry vision.  Should the dryness not improve there are numerous solutions to improve patient comfort and it is worth seeking help from an eye doctor that is familiar with treating dry eye syndrome.

Glare and Poor Night Vision

Often glare, halos and night vision problems are due to large pupils and/or uncorrected refractive error.  Night driving glasses will usually help patients that are still a little nearsighted following refractive surgery.  Treating the glare is little more difficult.  Glare often improves with time, however a medication called Alphagan has been known to improve night glare symptoms by causing the pupil to constrict slightly.  Alphagan may contribute to the ocular dryness, however.

Know Your Vision Correction Options

LASIK and PRK are good procedures and can greatly improve one’s quality of life.  Prior to taking the refractive surgery plunge patients should thoroughly research their options.  In an upcoming article I’ll cover the alternatives to refractive surgery.

At Total Eye Care we offer all of the refractive surgery and non surgical vision correction options available and we pride ourselves on giving our patients an objective opinion of all of their choices.  It is important for our patients to be well educated on the pros and cons of each option so that they can make an informed decision.

Check out the video below from the Good Morning America’s investigation on LASIK, it offers a balanced report on refractive surgery.

LACRISERT® – an Option for Patients with Severe Dry Eye Syndrome

We now have LACRISERT® available in the office for the treatment of dry eye syndrome.  So far the results have been promising.  LACRISERT® is inserted inside your lower lid once or twice a day.  Lacrisert slowly releases supplemental tears to your eyes throughout the day.

Most patients have found that using the LACRISERT® once a day provides sufficient relief for most of the workday.  When the LACRISERT® has almost completely dissolved it tends to not stay trapped inside the lower lid, causing intermittent blurred vision.  A drop of artificial tears flushes out the last remnant restoring vision.

Please feel free to call the office to see if LACRISERT® may be an option for your dry eyes.