A novel omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplement significantly improves symptoms of dry eye disease (DED), according to research published in Optometry and Vision Science. 

Researchers conducted a study consisting of 50 participants with moderate to severe DED (36 women, 14 men, mean age 33±14 years) and the mean baseline Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) score was 52.2±16.5. Among participants, 24 were assigned to a treatment group and 26 to a placebo group.

Participants in the treatment group received a supplement (1200 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, 300 mg docosahexaenoic acid, 150 mg γ-linoleic acid), while those in the control arm received a placebo (coconut and olive oil) daily for 3 months. Investigators determined compliance via omega-3 index blood tests. Additionally, they conducted assessments at baseline and at 1 and 3 month follow up periods that included the OSDI and Symptom Assessment Questionnaire, noninvasive tear breakup time, tear meniscus height, tear osmolarity, ocular redness, surface staining, Schirmer testing, and meibography.


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The report shows an improvement in OSDI scores at 3 months for both groups (treatment: -13.4 points, P =.003; placebo: -7.8 points, P =.02). However, participants with baseline OSDI scores >52 showed more improvement in symptoms with treatment at 3 months compared with baseline (n=13, -20.8 points, P =.002).

Investigators did not observe any significant changes in any of the ocular assessments at 1 or 3 months (all P >.05). At 3 month follow up, omega-3 index increased by 34% among the treatment group (baseline, 5.3±0.8; 3 months, 8.0±2.1; P <.001), while the placebo group experienced no change (baseline, 4.8±0.8; 3 months, 4.8±0.6; P =.95).

“Participants with the highest OSDI scores demonstrated a clinically significant reduction in OSDI scores after 3 months of omega-3 and omega-6 supplementation, dropping from 65.9 to 45.1,” according to investigators. “However, a score of 45.1 would still be categorized as severe dry eye disease.”

Study limitations include a small sample size, short duration, failure to track eye drop usage, and possible confounding due to dietary considerations.

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with the biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies.. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

Reference

Ng A, Woods J, Jahn T, Jones LW, Ritter JS. Effect of a novel omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplement on dry eye disease: a 3-month randomized controlled trial. Optom Vis Sci. 2022;99(1):67-75. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001826