Fatty Acid Supplementation May Improve Dry Eye Symptoms

Woman taking medicine
Clinicians may consider educating patients on the importance of nutrition and supplementation as a means of managing dry eye symptoms.

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.

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.


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