January 27, 2003
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Omega-3 aids in treatment of dry eye, blepharitis

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MAUI, Hawaii — Supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids with enriched flaxseed oil may provide the foundation for a broad spectrum of therapies for dry eye, according to Jeffrey P. Gilbard, MD.

“As a population we are omega-3 starved,” said Dr. Gilbard, here at Hawaii 2003: the Royal Hawaiian Eye Meeting.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are obtained by the body through diet, may address the root causes of meibomitis and dry eye by decreasing inflammation, Dr. Gilbard said. He is founder and president of Advanced Vision Research, which manufactures a tear supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Gilbard said certain levels of omega-3 fatty acids can influence activity in the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids, a group of essential fatty acids found in beef, dairy, vegetable cooking oils and vegetable shortenings. He said the most important example of this activity is of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These essential fatty acids are used by the meibomian glands to manufacture the oil layer of the tear film. Improvement of the oil layer may provide dry eye relief for patients with meibomian gland dysfunction, he said.

Additionally, EPA inhibits the arachidonic acid (AA) inflammation cascade; therefore it may aid in reducing meibomitis and associated ocular surface inflammation, Dr. Gilbard said.

“I see omega-3 taking a great role in treating dry eye and blepharitis,” he said.

Studies are under way with TheraTears Nutrition (Advanced Vision Research), a patent pending EPA-enriched flaxseed oil, to fully evaluate its dry eye treatment possibilities.