Omega 3 DHA and Its Benefits to Eyes


Essential Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fats are import to our diet, they not only provide energy but also benefits our health in many ways. Omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with 22 carbons. Similar to vitamins and minerals, DHA is an essential fatty acid necessary to our diet because our body is unable to produce. There are three forms of Omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are often sourced from fatty fish and algae while ALA is found in plant foods such as Flax and Chia. Due to its scarce presence in many foods, DHA is considered the most difficult to consume in adequate amounts.

Health Benefits of Omega 3 DHA

DHA presents in high levels in brain and eye right from infancy. DHA is a major fat component found in the brain and eye accounting for up to 97% of the total omega-3 fats in the brain and up to 93% of the omega-3 fats in retina. DHA is also a key component of the heart. Numerous research studies confirm that everyone, from infants to adults to the elderly, can benefit from a regular intake of dietary DHA. Research has shown that DHA plays critical role in cognitive and vision development in infants. 

Vision Development

During the last three months of pregnancy and in the first few months of infancy, brain and eye obtains large amounts of DHA that is essential for retinal development. Several studies in preterm and term infants have suggested that DHA plays an essential role in optimum visual development. 

Researchers found that infant girls whose mothers received DHA supplements from their fourth month of pregnancy until delivery were less likely to have below-average visual acuity at 2 months of age than infant girls whose mothers did not receive the omega-3 supplements.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a very common eye condition of eye dryness. Dry eye can be caused by different reasons, for example, you don’t produce enough tears, or your tears is in poor quality so that it evaporates too fast. Scientists also discovered that inflammation on the surface of the eye can cause dry eye. Inflammation is typically an immune system response to stress, irritation, bacteria, toxins, or any of a number of causes.

Check out the video below for more information on Dry Eye Syndrome by  Dr. Roy Chuck. 

Dry eye can be triggered by many factors such as dry weather or climate, excessive exposure to digital screen and prolonged reading. All these act as sources of stress and cause inflammation on the surface of your eyes. The inflammation can increase the stress level. The cycle continues and your dry eye can become worse.

About 30 million American adults report dry eye symptoms and the number is expected to rise due to aging. Dry eye is annoying and long-lasting condition that affects daily life and it can get worse over time. 

DHA may help relieve dry eye and chronic inflammation of the eyelids. Dry eye syndrome also has been linked to omega-3 deficiency.

  1. DHA Increases tear secretion and helps maintain a tear film on the surface of the eye. The tear film interface focuses light on the retina and plays a role in maintaining visual acuity. In one study, researchers have found that taking 1000mg Omega-3 (650mg EPA and 350mg DHA) daily for 3 months significantly improved dry eye symptoms comparing to placebo.
  2. Studies show that consuming EPA and DHA can improve dry eye by decreasing the rate of tear evaporation. In another study, patients taking 600mg Omegas 3 (360mg EPA and 240mg DHA) daily for 3 months have shown improved dry eye symptoms and decreased tea evaporation.

Dietary Source of Omega 3 DHA

On average, the typical American diet contains less than 100mg of DHA per day, well below the amount recommended by several expert organizations around the world such as American Heart Association (AHA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL). 

DHA is typically found in fish and seafood especially in cold-water fish and algae. Foods high in DHA are salmon, sardines, tuna, herrings, trout, roe, mussels, oyster and clams.  DHA can be converted in body from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA can be found in flax seed and chia seed.

TOP 10 Fish High in DHA


DHA per 100 g

Atlantic salmon

1.4 g

American shad

1.3 g

European anchovy

1.3 g


1.2 g

Pacific jack mackerel

1.2 g

Atlantic herring

1.2 g

Bluefin tuna

1.1 g


0.9 g

Rainbow trout

0.8 g

Striped bass

0.8 g

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