Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) supplementation on dry eye symptoms, tear film tests, and conjunctival impression cytology in patients with contact lens wear-associated dry eye.
Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, multicentric trial, contact lens wearers (n = 496) were randomized to receive either O3FAs or placebo capsules (corn oil) twice daily for 6 months. Subjects underwent examinations at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. At each visit, a questionnaire of dry eye symptoms and lens wear comfort was administered. Subjects further underwent measurement of tear film break-up time (TBUT) and a Schirmer test. Conjunctival impression cytology was performed by the transfer method. Improvement in symptoms and lens wear comfort were primary outcome measures. Changes from baseline in TBUT, Schirmer, and Nelson grade at 6 months were secondary outcome measures.
Results: The mean improvement in symptom score in the O3FA group was 4.7 ± 2 (2.0) as compared with 0.5 ± 2 (0.9) in the placebo group (P < 0.0001). Lens wear comfort levels improved significantly (P < 0.0001) from baseline. There was a significant increase in TBUT [3.3 ± 2 (1.5)] and Nelson grade [0.7 ± 2 (0.6)] in the O3FA group (P < 0.0001) as compared with 0.3 ± 2 (0.6) and 0.1 ± 2 (0.4) in the placebo group (P = 0.164 and 0.094, respectively). However, the magnitude of increase in Schirmer score [2.0 ± 2 (1.5)] was relatively small (P = 0.08).
Conclusions: The results of this study point toward benefits of orally administered O3FAs in alleviating dry eye symptoms, improving lens wear comfort, and cytological changes in contact lens wearers.