Help for Dry Eye: Omega 3s may be the answer

In the largest study to date examining the relationship of diet to dry eye, researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered that getting more omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent and relieve the dry-eye symptoms experienced by millions of North Americans.

The study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Research and Ophthalmology, involved 32,470 women who participated in the Women’s Health Study at Harvard Medical School. The study showed conclusively that for many patients, dry eye is a dietary deficiency of the omega-3 oils found abundant in flaxseed and fish. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids (EFAs) needed by the eyes, lids and tear film to function best. These EFAs, which the body cannot produce, are also known to play a role in heart health and cancer prevention.

“This is the first time there has been a definitive link established between the condition and diet,” said Jeffrey Gilbard, MD, one of the investigators in the study. “Omega-3 help dry eye by decreasing eyelid inflammation called ‘blepharitis,’ and by improving the production of oil and water by the tear glands.”

Gilbard recommends a high quality omega-3 supplement for those suffering dry eye – unless it’s likely that they’ll be eating salmon, sardines or mackerel on a daily basis! Dry eye is the most common complaint of people who visit an eye doctor. It is a chronic disease that occurs from either decreased tear production or increased tear film evaporation.

NewsRx, Sept 25, 2003