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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Found Not To Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms

Gel capsules on a spoon.

A study co-authored by Berkeley Optometry’s Meng C. Lin and published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients with Dry Eye who received oral supplements containing 3000 mg of n−3 fatty acids for 12 months did not have significantly better outcomes than those who were assigned to receive placebo. According to the article, “Dry eye disease is a common chronic, inflammatory, age-related condition that causes ocular discomfort, fatigue, and visual disturbances that interfere with reading, computer use, driving, and other aspects of quality of life.” About 14% of adults in the United States suffer from Dry Eye conditions — it is one of the most common reasons for seeking eye care. “Many clinicians recommend and many patients take dietary supplements of n−3 fatty acids (often called omega-3 fatty acids), because they have antiinflammatory activity and are not associated with substantial side effects,” the study’s authors write. Though “there is no definitive evidence of the efficacy of n−3 fatty acid supplements in the relief of symptoms or in the resolution of signs of dry eye disease.”

Study Details

In the study — a multicenter, double-blind clinical trial — over 535 patients with moderate-to-severe dry eye disease were randomly assigned to receive a daily oral dose of 3000 mg of fish-derived n−3 eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (active supplement group) or an olive oil placebo (placebo group). The study was funded by the National Eye Institute.

The Berkeley team for the DREAM study included:

Carly Childs, PhD
Mariel Lerma, BA
Uyen Do, MA
Wing (Eric) Li, OD, PhD
Zakia Young, JD
Tiffany Yuen, OD

Read the Paper

About Dr. Meng C. Lin

Dr. Lin is Professor of Clinical Optometry and Vision Science, Director of the UC Berkeley Clinical Research Center, Chief of the Ocular Surface Imaging Clinic and Co-Chief of the Berkeley Optometry Dry Eye Clinic where she supervises optometry interns and residents in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of dry eye found in patients in the Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center.

Dr. Lin’s research interests include:

  • Ocular Surface Physiology
  • Effects of ethnicity on contact lens wear
  • Genetic and environmental factors on non-contact-lens-induced dry eye
  • Factors affecting post-lens aqueous tear mixing under contact lenses
Meng C. Lin Profile Page