Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is an essential fatty acid. However, this acid cannot be made in the body and must come from dietary sources. ALA and other fatty acids are the building blocks for all human cells. All have a natural anti-inflammatory activity. ALA can be found in flaxseeds, soy beans, walnuts, canola oil, green leafy vegetables, mustard and pumpkin seeds. Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects about 10 million people in the United States. It occurs when tear glands in the eye are unable to produce enough tears to lubricate the eye. This leads to itching, burning, irritation, and a feeling of scratchiness in the eyes.
One recent study examined the effectiveness of eye drops containing ALA on dry eye syndrome in test animals. The test subjects that received drops containing ALA showed a significant reversal in corneal damage caused by dry eye syndrome. Studies to evaluate topical preparations of ALA in humans with dry eye syndrome are being planned. It is unknown whether dietary or supplemental intake of ALA is effective in improving symptoms of dry eye syndrome.