Can Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Improve Dry Eye Symptoms?

JUNE 21, 2016
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Dry eye disease affects visual function, activities of daily living, workplace productivity, and health-related quality of life.

Dry eye disease, especially in mild forms, is underreported and undertreated. Only 20% of patients with mild disease and only half of those with moderate disease seek medical care. Causes of dry eye include lacrimal dysfunction, increased osmolarity of the tear film, and, most importantly, inflammation of the ocular surface.

Previous research has suggested that omega-3 essential fatty acid supplementation diminishes prostaglandin-induced ocular inflammation. Now, the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging has published study results adding to the growing body of evidence that fatty acids reduce ocular inflammation.

The study investigators enrolled 1419 patients with dry eye who used artificial tears. The participants were directed to take 3 Brudysec 1.5-g capsules per day. This study supplement contained 70% docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

At 12 weeks, the investigators measured dry eye symptoms, conjunctival hyperemia, tear breakup time (positive for disease if less than 10 seconds), and Oxford grading scheme (an ophthalmologist-conducted measure of symptom severity).

The study medication was well tolerated, no patients dropped out due to adverse effects, and ophthalmologists rated 91.6% of the patients’ symptoms as improved upon examination.

Participants experienced reduced artificial tear use and subjective symptom severity. Those with the best treatment adherence and worse baseline symptom severity improved the most.

A past study suggested that increased dietary intake (at least 5 servings per week) of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids decreases dry eye risk. Those findings agreed with the 2015 Sjögren syndrome guideline recommendations, as well.

The current study results showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreased artificial tear use, lessened conjunctival hyperemia, and improved tear secretion and tear film stability.

As of May 2016, a large, double-masked, randomized, multicenter clinical trial is underway to investigate DHA and EPA for dry eye symptoms.


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