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Meta-analysis finds association between omega-3 supplementation and dry eye improvement

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves dry eye symptoms, tear film stability, and tear production
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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

February 04 2019. Results from a meta-analysis reported on January 29, 2019 in the journal Cornea conclude a benefit for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with dry eyedisease, a source of eye discomfort and visual disturbance that can significantly impact quality of life and work productivity.

For the meta-analysis, researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy selected 17 randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in 3,363 participants with dry eye. Subjects included men and women with dry eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, visual display terminal use, Sjögren syndrome, contact lens wear, rosacea and unspecified causes. Average follow-up periods ranged from one to twelve months. Twelve of the 17 trials evaluated the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA plus DHA, while the remainder tested EPA plus DHA combined with other fatty acids, or flaxseed oil alone (which contains the omega-3 precursor ALA). Dry eye symptoms were assessed at the beginning and end of the trials.

In a pooled analysis of all participants, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a reduction in dry eye symptoms and corneal fluorescein staining (an indicator of corneal abrasion) in comparison with a placebo. Tear breakup time and Schirmer test values (a measure of tear production) increased in association with omega-3.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest meta-analysis to investigate the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for dry eye disease,” authors Giuseppe Giannaccare, MD, PhD, and colleagues announced. “This systematic review and meta-analysis indicate that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves dry eye symptoms, tear film stability, and tear production in patients with dry eye disease. Based on current evidence available, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be recommended in clinical practice for treatment of this condition.”

—D Dye

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