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Risks and Benefits of Restasis vs. Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Treat Dry Eye

February 03, 2017 2 min read

Restasis vs. Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

If someone suffers from dry eye, there are many treatment options available. Two popular ones are prescription Restasis and the use of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements such as those derived from fish oil.

What Is Restasis?

Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) is an immunosuppressant prescription eye-drop, usually administered twice daily, and it’s used to treat chronic dry eye that may be caused by inflammation.

What Are the Side Effects?

Common side effects of Restasis are a burning sensation in the eyes, redness, tearing, ocular discharge, pain, itching, stinging, visual blurring, or feeling as if something is lodged in the eye.


Do not use Restasis in combination with other eye drops or medications unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Do not use Restasis while wearing contact lenses. It is not known whether Restasis might be harmful to a fetus. Talk to a physician if pregnant or if you could become pregnant during use of Restasis. It is also not known whether Restasis passes into breast milk. Consult with the doctor if currently breastfeeding.

How Effective Is Restasis?

According to WebMD reviews of Restasis, it has an overall effectiveness and satisfaction rating of less than three on a five-point scale. Yikes! Let’s look at the next option...

What areOmega-3 Fatty Acids?

Over the past decade many Americans have turned to omega-3 fish oil supplements, which have benefits for healthy people and also those with health conditions.

Omega-3 fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients important for preventing and managing heart disease as well as a host of other health concerns such as dry eye.

According toallaboutvision.com, “Several studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. Essential fatty acids also may help proper drainage of intraocular fluid from the eye, decreasing the risk of high eye pressure and glaucoma.”

What are the Side Effects?

Side effects from omega-3 fish oil may include:

  • A fishy taste in the mouth (if using a non-pharmaceutical grade fish oil)
  • Fishy breath (ditto to the above)
  • Stomach upset
  • Loose stools
  • Nausea

If someone is allergic to fish, it is not recommended they consume these types of supplements, however there are many other Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplements that do not use fish, such as flaxseed oil.

How Effective Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dry Eye?

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Sixty-five percent of patients in the omega-3 group and 33% of patients in placebo group had significant improvement in symptoms at 3 months.”

It seems, based on the available data, that omega-3 fatty acids may be the better choice to try to resolve dry eye syndrome, especially in the long run. What have you got to lose? Have you tried omega-3 fatty acid supplements for your dry eye?

One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler, Eye Love

Dr. Jenna Zigler

Other Dry Eye articles by Dr. Zigler: 4 Tips to Stop Waking Up With Dry, Painful EyesWhich Antidepressants Cause Dry EyeFish Oil for Fighting Dry Eye Inflammation; and What Not To Eat If You Have Dry Eye

2 Responses

Dr. Jenna Zigler
Dr. Jenna Zigler

April 06, 2017

Hey Pam – I found this one that’s a vegan flaxseed oil (not sure if you can take this): https://www.amazon.com/…/dp/B002VLZ8DU/ref=sr_1_4_a_it…

There’s also a Nordic Naturals Algae Omega 3, but it’s a pill: https://www.amazon.com/…/dp/B009KTUGSS/ref=sr_1_1_a_it…

hope that helps!

One Love,
Dr. Jenna Zigler

Pam Williams
Pam Williams

April 06, 2017

Dr. Jenna not so much a comment as a question. I have Sjogrens no tears or saliva, and with it a type of vasculitis. The vasculitis does not like either fish oil, or flaxseeds, and breaks out, due to throat dryness I do not swallow well, thus, have to cut up pills, or get chewable, or those that can be crushed. Any medication you know of out there that might help w/dry eyes more like the ones on Eyelove website, l like natural better. TXS

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