Omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective treatment for dry eye disease (DED). Researchers investigated whether the anti-inflammatory properties of the fatty acid could ameliorate the disease’s signs and symptoms. The systematic review and meta-analysis included 17 randomized clinical trials that enrolled a total of 3,363 participants for DED treatment with omega-3 supplementation. The pooled results demonstrated that supplementation decreased DED symptoms and corneal fluorescein staining and increased tear break-up time (TBUT) and Schirmer test values. Researchers believe the results of multiple sensitivity analyses and the publication bias assessment suggest that the meta-analysis’s results are robust.

Researchers also found a significant association between the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation and the country in which the study was performed. They suggested the association might depend on the differences in dietary practices in world’s different regions, as low dietary intake of omega-3s could be responsible for the higher efficacy of the supplementation observed in Indian patients with DED.

The meta-analysis was unable to identify evidence regarding optimal dosage, duration of treatment and efficacy, but researchers believe further rigorous randomized clinical trials are needed to address those issues. Nevertheless, they recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in clinical practice for DED treatment.

Giannaccare G, Pellegrini M, Sebastiani S. Efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for treatment of dry eye disease. Cornea. January 29, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].