Angling for Dry Eye Therapy?

Roger F. Steinert, MD


July 23, 2013

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dry Eyes

Hello. I'm Dr. Roger Steinert, Director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at the University of California, Irvine. Welcome to Medscape and this month's blog.

I would like to discuss dry eyes and the role of omega-3 fatty acids. This has been getting quite a bit of discussion at recent meetings and there have been a couple of recent publications that are quite pertinent. Medscape published a report from Iran that demonstrated an increase in tear breakup time and a decrease in dry eye scores in patients taking omega-3 dietary supplements.[1]

This virtually coincides with a report in Cornea by Dr. Ong and her group.[2] They investigated the effect of omega-3 fatty acids after performing photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and found parallel results: an increase in tear breakup time and better surface scores in patients taking omega-3 dietary supplements.

Interestingly, our group in the basic science labs here at the University of California, Irvine, led by Dr. James Jester, has been looking at a mouse model for meibomian gland dysfunction. In that model, we have been able to demonstrate an overall increase in the ratio of protein to oil in meibomian gland dysfunction. The explanation for this is that in chronic meibomian gland dysfunction, there is a drop-off in the number of secretory cells for the lipid component of meibomian gland excretion.

This also adds some basic science support to the idea that we can favorably affect meibomian gland content and potentially increase the amount of lipid with dietary supplementation.


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