Black currant seed oil contains an Omega-6 essential fatty acid that may help treat dry eyes. However, its efficacy is unclear and there are not enough studies.
Black currant seed oil comes from the black currant seed. It is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an Omega-6 fatty acid.
This article will discuss whether black currant seed oil can help dry eyes, how it works, usage, risks and side effects, and other dry eye treatments.
Currently, there are not enough studies on whether black currant seed oil supplements can treat dry eyes.
Some evidence suggests that essential fatty acids (EFAs) may help treat dry eye disease. The two types of EFAs are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Black currant seed is rich in an Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
According to a 2015 review, research has shown that GLA may reduce inflammation caused by Sjögren syndrome, which can cause dry eyes. In addition, evidence suggests that Omega-6 may help improve tear production and relieve dry eye symptoms in people with dry eye contact lenses. Some evidence has also shown that GLA and Omega-3 supplementation when paired with eyelid hygiene, could improve meibomian gland dysfunction symptoms more than individual treatments.
Improving eye irritation
A separate 2013 study also found that GLA and Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improved eye irritation symptoms and caused other positive effects in postmenopausal patients with dry eyes.
There is not yet enough evidence to determine efficacy and inform evidence-based medicine.
Experts are unsure exactly how EFAs like GLA treat dry eye disease. The body cannot make EFAs, so someone must ingest them as part of their diet.
Evidence suggests that inflammation could underlie dry eye disease, and EFAs may help produce anti-inflammatory products in the body.
Specifically, EFAs turn into other acids in the body that precede molecules called eicosanoids. Experts generally consider Omega-3 eicosanoids to be helpful, and Omega-6 eicosanoids to be inflammatory. However, specific Omega-6 eicosanoids are actually anti-inflammatory.
The Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio in the body needs a level of balance. An ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio may be 4:1 or less. Too much Omega-6 could cause inflammatory conditions.
Black currant seed oil supplements exist. There is no consensus on black currant seed oil dosage or protocols for dry eye treatment.
It is important to consult a doctor and follow their recommendation.
In some studies, there is a combination of GLA supplementation and Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. An unbalanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio caused by too much Omega-6 could contribute to inflammatory conditions.
Black currant seed oil may help relieve dry eye symptoms, but we need more research.
The GLA in black currant seed oil may aid in reducing and treating inflammation, which is sometimes associated with dry eye symptoms.
In addition to potentially relieving dry eye symptoms,
Side effects from black currant seed oil supplementation could include:
- gastrointestinal upset
- loose stool
Black currant seed oil may not be safe for someone with a seizure disorder or a history of seizures. In case reports, a GLA-rich oil induced seizure activity in certain people.
Experts have not established whether black currant seed oil is safe for those who are pregnant or nursing.
A person should consult their doctor and follow their recommendations about supplementation. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, research the company, and choose one with a history of integrity, as the FDA does not monitor herbal products.
Treatments can vary based on the cause of dry eye symptoms. Some treatments could include:
- artificial tears
- prescription eye drop medications or ointments
- blocking the tear ducts with plugs or surgery
- warm compresses
- massaging the eyelid
- specific eyelid cleansers
An ophthalmologist can recommend the appropriate treatment for someone’s individual condition.
Black currant seed oil is rich in an Omega-6 fatty acid called GLA. There are some studies that suggest GLA supplementation could help improve certain dry eye symptoms and related conditions. However, researchers need more studies to determine efficacy and use.
Experts are uncertain about how Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) could treat dry eye disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, and Omega-6 fatty acids have a complex relationship with inflammation. Maintaining an ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is important, as too much Omega-6 may lead to inflammation.
There is no consensus on how to supplement with black currant seed oil, so it is important to consult a doctor and follow their recommendation. Side effects could include loose stool, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset. Risks for those who are pregnant and nursing are unknown, and black currant seed oil may not be safe for those who experience seizures.
Other dry eye treatments may include artificial tears, prescription medications, blocking the tear ducts, warm compresses, massage, and certain eyelid cleansers. A doctor can recommend the best treatment for dry eyes.