Re-esterified omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may offer significant improvements to several symptoms of dry eyes, according to new study results published in Cornea. Researchers found that 12-week supplementation with PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits, a commercial supplement containing 1680 mg EPA and 560 mg DHA from Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals (Plymouth Meeting, PA), resulted in significant improvements to tear osmolarity, tear break-up time, and the ocular surface disease index.
Several past studies have found omega-3s to be effective at alleviating symptoms of dry eyes—often caused by dysfunction of the meibomian glands—but researchers in this study looked specifically at the effects of re-esterified omega-3s.
The prospective, placebo-controlled, double-masked study included 105 participants who were randomized to consume 4 softgels containing either the re-esterified omega-3 supplement or a placebo once daily for 12 weeks. All participants had a previously confirmed diagnosis of dry eye disease, but only those with stage 1 or 2 of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) were included in the trial. Participants in the omega-3 group had a mean age of 57 +/- 16.8, while participants in the placebo group had a mean age of 56.5 +/- 17.3.
At both six and 12 weeks after beginning supplementation, researchers observed a statistically significant reduction in tear osmolarity in the omega-3 group compared to the control group. Additionally, at the end of the experimental period, the omega-3 group showed a significant increase to omega-3 index levels and tear break-up time, as well as significant reductions to matrix metalloproteinase-9 and the ocular surface disease index. Based on these findings, researchers concluded that the re-esterified omega-3 supplement “improved both signs and symptoms of dry eyes over a 12-week period.”
“The findings here are game changing,” said Alice T. Epitropoulos, lead investigator of the study, in the study announcement. “The research shows that omega-3s administered in the proper dose and in a cleaned triglyceride form can not only provide the necessary lipids for the tear film to impact tear osmolarity and tear break-up time, the data also demonstrates that re-esterified triglyceride omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is a vital option for patients with meibomian gland disease and should be considered by all ophthalmologists treating dry eye patients.”