Health Care

Fish oil supplements don't help dry eye disease

Fish oil supplements don't help dry eye disease”

"This well-controlled investigation conducted by the independently-led Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Research Group shows that omega-3 supplements are no better than placebo for typical patients who suffer from dry eye".

Fish oil supplements have always been recommended to people suffering from dry eye disease, a common ailment that affects millions worldwide - but a study out Friday says they don't work. The trial included 535 patients randomized into a treatment group or a placebo group.

The subjects were randomly assigned to either a daily dose of an omega-3 supplement or an olive oil placebo, delivered in identical capsules.

Patients who received omega-3 experienced a 13.9-point mean reduction in Ocular Surface Disease Index score at 12 months compared with a 12.5-point mean reduction in OSDI score in patients who received placebo, which was not a clinically significant difference, according to Asbell.

Few serious adverse events were seen in both groups, confirming the omega-3s' safety.

Asbell P. Featured lecture: Role of nutritional supplements in dry eye disease.

The results of the study were published this Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Disclosures: Asbell reports she is a consultant for Allergan, Kao Corporation, Medscape, Novartis, Perrigo, Regeneron, Santen, Scientia, Senju, Shire, Valeant and Virtuoso; and receives full or partial research funding from MC2 Therapeutics, Novartis and Valeant.

Jules Winokur, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, described the study as "important", and agreed that more work is needed to understand why both groups improved nearly equally. Members of both groups were free to keep using other dry eye remedies, such as artificial tears and prescription anti-inflammatory eye drops. "However, there are many people whose treatment course isn't simple, and whose lives are negatively impacted by the disease".

"Dry eye is a common problem that nearly everyone experiences at some point in their lives", he said, noting that symptoms can range from mild discomfort to chronic, debilitating pain that interferes with daily life. The researchers noted there was no significant difference between the two groups.

Dr. Matthew Gorski is an ophthalmologist at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. He said that "there was great hope for fish oil, like any new medicine for dry eye syndrome that could help improve a patient's quality of life, since so many people are affected by it".

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