What to Know About Flaxseed Oil for Dry Eyes

If your eyes burn, itch, or feel gritty, you may have dry eyes, a common condition that occurs when you don’t produce enough tears to lubricate the eyes. Tears keep the eyes smooth and wet, and are important for clear vision and maintaining good eye health.

While over-the-counter and prescription eye drops are generally effective at reducing dry eyes, you may like to try natural home remedies. Many people use flaxseed oil, also known as flax oil or linseed oil, to improve dry eyes. Flaxseed oil is made by grinding and pressing flaxseeds to produce a clear to yellowish-colored oil.

Read on to learn more about how flaxseed oil may help lubricate the eyes to provide relief.

Flax Seeds

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Health Benefits 

Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (specifically α-linolenic acid), lignans, and proteins. It also serves as a powerful antioxidant.

Thanks to these nutrients, flaxseed oil is known to offer many health benefits:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote heart health
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Improve gut health
  • Prevent kidney disease
  • Help with weight loss
  • Improve skin health

Because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil can help with dry eye relief. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help increase the production and amount of tears, which can help lubricate the eyes.

Possible Side Effects 

Flaxseed oil is generally considered to be safe when consumed by adults. Research shows little to no evidence of toxicity or side effects when flaxseed oil is used as a dietary supplement.

Large doses of flaxseed oil may cause diarrhea.

Flaxseed oil may interact with some medications, including:

  • Blood thinners (e.g., aspirin)
  • Medications that regulate blood sugar (e.g., insulin)

Talk with your healthcare provider before using flaxseed oil if you have any bleeding conditions, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, low blood pressure, prostate cancer, or an underactive thyroid.

Flaxseed Allergy

Some people have allergic reactions to flaxseed oil. Itching, hives, nausea, and vomiting are all signs of an allergic reaction to flaxseed oil. Discontinue use and see your healthcare provider if you have an allergic reaction.

Dosage and Preparation 

There is no standard recommended dosage for the daily intake of flaxseed oil.

Liquid flaxseed oil contains approximately 7 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) per 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters). Guidelines recommend 1,600 milligrams (mg) of ALA omega-3 fatty acids a day for men, and 1,100 mg a day for women.

If you’d rather not use flaxseed oil as a dietary supplement, you can try adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Research shows that consuming omega-3 fatty acids may help stimulate tear production and lubricate the eyes. Consider adding foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and flaxseeds.

Taking fish oil or other omega-3 supplements may also be effective. 

Omega-3s From All Sources

Your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from all sources (foods and supplements) counts toward the daily recommended dosage. If you eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and take a supplement, you could go over the daily recommendation. Speak with your physician about the appropriate intake of omega-3s.

What to Look For

Flaxseed oil capsule supplements are available at health food stores and many drugstores. Look for cold-pressed flaxseed products that are labeled with all the ingredients and dosage recommendations.

You can find liquid flaxseed oil on the shelves or in the refrigerated section at some grocery stores and health food stores. Look for cold-pressed oil in opaque packaging that protects it from light and heat, which can damage the nutrients in flaxseed.

Keep Flaxseed Oil From Going Bad

Be sure to refrigerate your flaxseed oil once opened in order to prevent it from spoiling. Also be sure to check the expiration date. Once flaxseed oil is past the expiration date, it can go rancid and have a bitter or burned flavor.

Important Considerations

Buying flaxseed oil supplements for dry eyes may not be necessary if you are already using the first-line treatment recommended by your healthcare provider (eye drops) and eating a healthy diet rich in omega-3s, fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

If you have a bleeding disorder, an upcoming surgery, or are on prescription medications, you should consult your healthcare provider before trying flaxseed oil.

Do not take flaxseed oil or consume flaxseeds if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It may cause complications due to its hormonal effect.

Consistently Dry Eyes

Flaxseed oil may offer a number of health benefits, but it is not a cure for dry eyes or other health conditions, although it may aid in reducing symptoms. If you have consistently dry eyes, speak with your healthcare provider or ophthalmologist for more information.

A Word From Verywell 

Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and have an impact on your quality of life. Flaxseed oil may provide lubrication to reduce dry eyes and help improve your eye health and comfort. If you do use flaxseed oil to reduce dry eyes, be sure to continue any treatments recommended by your healthcare provider and reduce your screen time whenever possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the best flaxseed oil dosage for adults?

    There is no standard dosing guideline for flaxseed oil. The recommended dosage varies, depending on the manufacturer and the individual. Flaxseed oil is available for use in food preparation, liquid supplement form, and capsule supplements. If you use a supplement, follow the dosage directions on the bottle.

  • Should you put flaxseed oil directly in your eyes?

    When recommended by a healthcare professional, flaxseed oil may be added directly to the eyes as an “artificial tear.” One study found that individuals who received eye drops containing flaxseed oil (combined with trehalose) effectively treated dry eye syndrome. However, it is not recommended to add flaxseed oil directly to the eyes, as this may cause blurry vision. Instead, try flaxseed oil supplements available in capsule or liquid form.

  • Does flaxseed oil cause side effects?

    Flaxseed oil is considered to be safe when taken as directed and used on a short-term basis. When taken in small doses, it generally does not cause side effects. Large doses may cause diarrhea. Allergic reactions are possible, so stop using it if you experience an allergic reaction.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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