This study investigated optometrists' attitudes and self-reported practice behaviors towards omega-3 fatty acids for eye health, and knowledge and understanding of their potential risks and benefits. An anonymous online survey was distributed to optometrists in Australia and New Zealand. Questions included practitioner demographics and practice modality; self-reported practices and recommendations relating to diet, nutritional supplements, and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye disease (DED); and practitioner knowledge about omega-3 fatty acids. Of 206 included surveys, most respondents (79%) indicated recommending for their patients to consume omega-3 fatty acids to improve their eye health. Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated recommending omega-3-rich foods for AMD management, while 62% indicated recommending omega-3 supplements. Most respondents (78%) indicated recommending omega-3-rich foods or supplements for DED. For DED, recommended omega-3 supplement dosages were (median [inter-quartile range, IQR]) 2000 mg [1000-2750 mg] per day. The main sources of information reported by respondents to guide their clinical decision making were continuing education articles and conferences. In conclusion, optometrists routinely make clinical recommendations about diet and omega-3 fatty acids. Future education could target improving optometrists' knowledge of differences in the evidence for whole-food versus supplement sources of omega-3 fatty acids in AMD. Further research is needed to address uncertainties in the evidence regarding optimal omega-3 dosage and formulation composition in DED.
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; diet; dry eye; eye disease; fatty acid; nutrition; omega-3; optometrist; practice; supplement; survey.