Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of oral antioxidant supplementation in the treatment of patients with dry eye syndrome (DES).
Methods: A prospective, randomized, double-blinded study compared the effects of an antioxidant supplement (containing anthocyanosides, astaxanthin, vitamins A, C, and E, and several herbal extracts, including Cassiae semen and Ophiopogonis japonicus) with placebo on patients with DES. We assessed dry eye symptoms, visual acuity, Schirmer's test, tear film breakup time, cornea and conjunctiva fluorescein staining, serum anti-SSA/anti-SSB antibodies, and the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in tears. The supplementation period was 8 weeks and patients were followed up every 4 weeks for 16 weeks. A linear mixed model was used to compare the groups, while within-group differences were tested by repeated-measures analysis of variance.
Results: Forty-three patients, 20 and 23 in treatment and placebo groups, respectively, completed the study. Liver and renal functions were normal. Diastolic blood pressure decreased in the treatment group. There were no significant differences in systolic blood pressure, dry eye symptoms, serum anti-SSA and anti-SSB, visual acuity, intraocular pressure, or fluorescein corneal staining between the groups. Tear film breakup time scores and Schirmer's test without topical anesthesia significantly improved in the treatment group. Tear ROS level differed between the groups and decreased after treatment. Overall subjective impression revealed a significant improvement with treatment compared with placebo.
Conclusion: Oral antioxidant supplementations may increase tear production and improve tear film stability by reducing tear ROS. The vegetable-based antioxidant supplement used in this study is safe and can be utilized as an adjuvant therapy to conventional artificial tear therapy for patients with DES.
Keywords: blood pressure; dry eye; herbal extracts; reactive oxygen species; tear.