Most people link DHA and EPA to both cardiovascular and brain health, rightfully so. But, there is also a positive link between DHA/EPA consumption and the alleviation of dry eye disease (DED).
This is a potential boon for supplement formulators: as more Americans spend more time on smartphones and computers, and watching TV, diagnoses of DED are on the rise.
According to www.tearlab.com, “Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance and tearfilm instability with potential damage to the ocular surface. It is accompanied by increased osmolarity of the tear film and inflammation of the ocular surface.”
Effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil on dry eye syndrome subjects: randomized controlled trial.
In one 2013 study, 27 individuals with dry eyes took either fish oil capsules (1245 mg EPA and 540 mg DHA) or placebo for 12 weeks. Testing showed that the fish oil group had improvement in dry eye symptoms. (Kawakita T, et al. Biomed Res. 2013;34(5):215-20)
More recently, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 54 participants with mild to moderate dry eye disease were given either placebo, krill oil (945 mg/day EPA and 510 mg/day DHA), or fish oil (1,000 mg/day EPA and 500 mg/day DHA) for 90 days. Two tests were performed to discern improvement—tear osmolarity and Ocular Surface Disease Index; as well as secondary tests on specific symptoms and intensity.
The study team found at the end of the trial that tear osmolarity was reduced in both the krill oil and fish oil groups; while OSDI score was significantly reduced in the krill oil group only. Both supplement groups also showed improvements in other scores such as tear breakup time. The researchers concluded that omega 3 EFAs for 90 days resulted in improvement of key markers in DED.
Deinema LA, et al. Ophthalmology. 2017 Jan;124(1):43-52.