As our electronic device usage increases, so does the problem of dry eyes. [Photo: Bigstock]

Omega-3s help computer-related dry eyes

14 July, 2015

Natural Health News — If your eyes become dry when using a computer then supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids could help.

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a disorder of the tear film due to either diminished tear production or excessive tear evaporation.

About 20-40% of adult population suffer from this condition which can be caused by a variety of things including contact lens wear, age, certain medications and environment. The number, however seems to be increasing every year as our use of electronic devices increases.

What you need to know

» Using a computer for long periods can result in computer vision syndrome (CVS), the chief symptoms of which is dry eyes.

» A new study has shown that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve the symptoms of dry eyes, as well as promote better overall eye health.

The problem has become so severe that its given rise to a new disorder: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

Computer eyes

CVS consists of a series of eye and vision-related problems arising from prolonged use of digital screens (computer, tablet or mobile phone). Although these symptoms (one of the most common being dry eye) usually decrease by reducing the time spent on such devices, this is not always the case and, if not treated, they may worsen over time.

In a new study published in the journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye researchers performed a randomised, double-blind, multicentre trial designed to assess the efficacy of dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in symptoms of CVS including dry eye.

In this trial, 478 symptomatic patients were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received two capsules of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (180 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] plus 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) daily for three months and the other group received two capsules of olive oil.

The results demonstrated the beneficial effect of omega-3 in reducing symptoms of dry eye, reducing tear evaporation and other measures of eye health.

Supporting evidence

Other studies have also found benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

In one 2011 pilot study, dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye helped increase tear production and tear volume.

In another from 2013, two capsules of omega-3 (each containing 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA) daily for 30 days (compared to a placebo group received 2 medium-chain triglyceride oil capsules daily for 1 month) was associated with a decrease in the rate of tear evaporation, an improvement in dry eye symptoms, and an increase in tear secretion.

We have also reported on a study which showed benefit from a natural supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids and the herb fenugreek.

It is believed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may aid lubrication from the inside out, but also their anti-inflammatory properties may also be of benefit in cases of dry eye.