Omega-3 fatty acid supplements proved no better than placebo at relieving signs and symptoms in patients with dry eye disease, including those with Sjögren syndrome, according to a randomized, controlled trial funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“The trial provides the most reliable and generalizable evidence thus far on omega-3 supplementation for dry eye disease,” said Maryann Redford, DDS, MPH, program officer for clinical research at NEI. “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.”
The 27-center trial enrolled 535 participants with at least a 6-month history of moderate to severe dry eye. Among them, 349 people were randomly assigned to receive 3 grams daily of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids in five capsules. Each daily dose contained 2000 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1000 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This dose of omega-3 is the highest ever tested for treating dry eye disease. The 186 people in the placebo group received 5 grams daily of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon) in identical capsules. Study participants and the researchers did not know their group assignment.
In contrast to most industry-sponsored trials, all participants were free to continue taking their previous medications for dry eye, such as artificial tears and prescription anti-inflammatory eye drops.
“Omega-3s are generally used as an add-on therapy. The study results are in the context of this real-world experience of treating symptomatic dry eye patients who request additional treatment,” said study chair for the trial, Penny A. Asbell, MD, of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Please click below for the results of the study.
Source: Omega-3s from fish oil supplements no better than placebo for dry eye: NIH-funded study finds omega-3 fails to yield beneficial results in the clinic [press release]. Bethesda, MD: National Eye Institute; April 13, 2018.