Monday, December 12, 2005

Omega-3s May Fight Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome in women may be caused by a dietary deficiency of omega-3s—essential fatty acids usually provided in the diet by fish such as tuna or salmon, according to a new U.S. study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To read the article click HERE.

Consuming sufficient omega-3s may reduce dry eye risk by 68 percent. The study analyzed data from surveys collected from more than 37,000 women enrolled in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Women’s Health Study.

Specifically, the study found:

  • Women with the highest levels of dietary intake of omega 3 reduced their risk of dry eye syndrome by 20 percent, compared to women with the lowest levels of omega 3 in their diets.
  • A dietary ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 greater than 15:1 was associated with a 2.5 times increased risk of dry eye syndrome. Currently, the average American diet has a similar ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, the study noted.
  • Women who reported having at least five servings of tuna per week were at a 68 percent reduced risk of dry eye syndrome, compared to women who had one serving of tuna per week.
  • Other kinds of fish that contain lower levels of omega 3 didn't seem to help protect against dry eye syndrome.
Given the warnings by the FDA regarding mercury and tuna fish, I don’t recommend dry eye patients eat tuna 5 or more times per week. Salmon and anchovies are very low in mercury, and would be a better choice. For those of his patients who find this difficult or impossible, I recommend TheraTears Nutrition, a purified omega-3 supplement that has been very successful clinically.