ω-3 Essential Fatty Acids May Protect Corneal Nerves in Dry Eye

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ω-3 Essential Fatty Acids May Protect Corneal Nerves in Dry Eye
ω-3 Essential Fatty Acids May Protect Corneal Nerves in Dry Eye

TUESDAY, March 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Oral, long-chain omega-3 (ω-3) essential fatty acid (EFA) supplementation is neuroprotective to corneal nerves for patients with dry eye disease, according to a study published online March 12 in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics.

Holly Rose Chinnery, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues conducted a prospective, comparative study involving the final 12 participants enrolled in a randomized controlled trial with 60 participants with moderate dry eye disease. Participants received placebo or ω-3 EFA supplements for 90 days (four and eight participants, respectively).

The researchers found that, compared with the placebo group, the ω-3 EFA group had a greater reduction in Ocular Surface Disease Index score and tear osmolarity at day 90 versus baseline. Compared with placebo, the ω-3 EFA group had higher corneal total nerve branch density (CTBD) and corneal nerve branch density (CNBD) on the main fiber at day 90. CNBD increased at day 90 relative to day one in the ω-3 EFA group compared with placebo. Similar changes were seen for corneal nerve fiber length, which increased in the ω-3 EFA group compared with placebo. A negative correlation was seen between CTBD and tear osmolarity. There were no significant changes for basal epithelial cell or corneal dendritic cell density.

"These pilot study findings suggest that ω-3 EFA supplementation imparts neuroprotective effects in the corneal sub-basal plexus that correlate with the extent of tear osmolarity normalization," the authors write.

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