Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid supplementation is used to treat systemic inflammatory diseases, but the role of n-3 in the pathophysiology and therapy of dry eye disease (DED) is not definitive. We evaluated the relationship of systemic n-3 levels with signs and symptoms at baseline in the Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Study.
Blood samples from participants at baseline were analyzed for n-3 and n-6, measured as relative percentage by weight among all fatty acids in erythrocytes. Symptoms were evaluated using the Ocular Surface Disease Index. Signs including conjunctival staining, corneal staining, tear breakup time (TBUT), and Schirmer's test with anesthesia were also evaluated.
There was no correlation between the systemic n-3 levels and DED symptoms. When the associations with signs of DED were assessed, lower DHA levels were associated with higher conjunctival staining, with mean scores of 3.31, 2.96, and 2.82 for low, medium, and high levels of DHA, respectively (linear trend P=0.007). None of the other signs were associated with DHA or the other measures of n-3.
Previous studies have found varying results on the role of n-3 supplementation with the signs and symptoms of DED. Among patients with DED enrolled in the DREAM Study, lower systemic n-3 levels were not associated with worse symptoms and most signs of DED.