The wrong way to treat chronic dry eye

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

February 14, 2022


Dry, irritated eyes can be a real problem for many people. It can interfere with sleep, reading, and just about any activity involving the eyes.

In terms of quality of life, one study on dry eye syndrome (the technical name for chronically dry eyes) says that severe cases are as bad as severe angina and dialysis!

Big Pharma markets a chemotherapy drug for dry eye syndrome called Restasis eye drops. But do we really need to put chemotherapy into our eyes to take care of this problem?

There should be a better way. And a recent study says there is.

The authors of the study looked at all of the published information on dry eye syndrome and omega-3 supplements between 2007 and 2013. The data included seven different trials involving 790 men and women. All the studies were published between 2007 and 2013.

Why Omega-3 Oils?

It’s because omega-3 oils are instrumental at decreasing inflammation. And to quote the authors of the study, “Inflammation is now understood to be a key process in the development of dry eye syndrome.” The studies they examined looked at two tests for dry eye syndrome.

One test is called the “tear breakup time” (TBUT). Normal tears form a continuously available film on the eyes that prevents them from drying out. Blinking maintains the tear film.

However, if you keep your eyes open long enough without blinking, the tear film will start breaking up. Your eyes will feel uncomfortable forcing you to blink. In patients with dry eyes, the tear film is unstable, and breaks up faster.

Therefore, the TBUT in patients who have dry eyes is shorter. Their eyes become irritated, and they feel the need to blink more often.

The other test they looked at was the Schirmer’s test. This test looks at the amount of tears that a person’s eyes can produce. People with dry eyes can’t produce enough tears, and their Schirmer’s test results indicate that.

The Results?

So here is what the researchers found out about omega-3 supplements and dry eye syndrome. It worked pretty well. The supplements increased the TBUT by 61% and the Schirmer’s test by 60%.

So if you suffer from dry eyes, before you go right out and start putting a chemotherapy chemical into your eyes, how about trying something natural like omega-3 oils? But that’s not all you can do.

The other often overlooked factor that can aggravate dry eye syndrome is dehydration. Not drinking enough water intensifies the problem. So make sure that you drink plenty of water every day.


Liu, A. and J. Ji. “Omega-3 essential fatty acids therapy for dry eye syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies.” Med Sci Monit. 2014 September 6;20:1583-9.

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