Research Article

The Role of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids in Dry Eye Disease

William J Faulkner*

Published: 12/22/2017 | Volume 1 - Issue 1 | Pages: 055-059

Review

One of every four visits to eye care professionals is for dry eye disease which affects an estimated 7-34% of Americans [1].Knowledge regarding etiology and treatments has advanced exponentially in the last 20 years. As recently as 1997, in the mega textbook Cornea, it was stated “The mechanism for lacrimal gland dysfunction in this condition is unclear” [2]. A recent study entitled “The Dry Eye Workshop ll Report”, defines dry eye as “a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface characterized by a loss of homeostasis of the tear film and accompanied by ocular symptoms in which tear film instability and hyperosmolarity, ocular surface inflammation, and damage and neurosensory abnormalities play etiological roles” [3]. A 2003 study regarding the morbidity ratings of dry eye showed utility assessments for moderate and severe dry eye were parallel to historical reports for more severe (class lll/ lV) angina [4]. The tear film is responsible for the greatest optical power of any ocular surface, since the greatest change in the index of refraction occurs between the air and the tear film [5]. Double pass retinal imaging shows increased light scatter in dry eye patients which can decrease retinal image quality 20-40% [5]. Ophthalmologists now understand the critical necessity to normalize the ocular surface prior to cataract surgery; otherwise, they risk an unhappy patient with a less than ideal visual result. Increased use of electronic devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and computers, by youth in the last ten years has resulted in a broader age range of dry eye patients, to now include adolescents and teens. A study of urban school age children showed that 8.2% had dry eye (vs 2.8% in a rural group), presumably due to high incidence of smart phone use.6 In fact, with cessation of phone use for four weeks, dry eye resolved completely in 100% of subjects [6]. Only two FDA approved dry eye medications are available: cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion, 0.05%, (approved in 2003) and lifitegrast, 5%, (approved in 2016), both of which require chronic treatment. The focus of this discussion involves an emerging paradigm in treating ocular surface disease: a nutraceutical containing omega-3 essential fatty acids.

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