Epithelial healing and visual outcomes of patients using omega-3 oral nutritional supplements before and after photorefractive keratectomy: a pilot study

Cornea. 2013 Jun;32(6):761-5. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31826905b3.


Purpose: To investigate the effect of omega-3 oral nutritional supplementation on corneal reepithelialization, visual acuity, and tear stability after photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

Methods: This is a prospective, randomized, single-blinded controlled therapeutic trial using omega-3 oral nutritional supplements (TheraTears Nutrition for Dry Eyes; Advanced Vision Research-Akorn, Ann Arbor, MI) conducted at our center. Eighteen healthy patients with refractive error between -1 and -8 diopters were recruited and had bilateral PRK. The treatment group (n = 9 subjects) received omega-3 2 weeks before surgery through 1 month after PRK. The control group (n = 9 subjects) was not given omega-3. Epithelial defects were photographed on postoperative days 0 to 5. Reepithelialization (area in square millimeters) was assessed by fluorescein staining until healing. Tear breakup time (TBUT) and uncorrected distance visual acuity were measured at 1 week, and 1 and 3 months postoperatively.

Results: Epithelial defect in the treatment group eyes healed faster compared with that of the controls (P = 0.04). The treatment group eyes healed at an average rate of 1.19% [SD = 0.002; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.04%-1.34%] per hour, versus 0.83% (SD = 0.0008; 95% CI, 0.77%-0.89%) for controls (Mann-Whitney rank-sum test, P < 0.001). The treatment group eyes maintained a significantly longer TBUT from week 1 through 3 months (mean = 9.52 seconds, SD = 0.81; 95% CI, 8.93-10.10), compared with the controls (mean = 5.52 seconds, SD = 0.81; 95% CI, 4.93-6.10; P < 0.001), and all reached 20/20 vision versus only 4 in the control group 1 month after surgery (P = 0.03).

Conclusions: Omega-3 oral nutritional supplements decreased the average time for epithelial healing, and improved TBUT and visual acuity recovery in PRK. These findings suggested that omega-3 oral nutritional supplementation may be a beneficial adjunct therapy for PRK patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia / surgery
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tears / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3