How Does Nutrition Impact Dry Eye Disease? – Episode 76

Nutrition is an interesting topic when it pertains to dry eye disease. Several years ago I found myself in a little bit of a quandary as I recommended my patients use Omega 3’s for dry eye. I left it to them to select the brand and would follow up with them several months later. Interestingly, I didn’t seem to be seeing the benefits that I’ve read about in the literature. As we started investigating ocular nutrition for dry eye more, we realized that there was more to understanding appropriate nutrition than we initially thought. It actually led us to offering ocular nutrition supplements in our practice for those patients that we felt it was appropriate to help optimize outcomes. Realize that it’s incorrect to assume that if someone’s taking fish oil, it’s also the amount of omega-3 they’re taking. This is actually incorrect. Fish oil is rich in omega 3’s but you can’t assume that because someone is taking fish oil, that they’re acquiring an adequate amount of Omega 3’s. When you look at a bottle of fish oil, oftentimes it will say the amount of fish oil on the front of the bottle, and then the amount of Omega 3’s on the back. We found that lower concentrations of Omega 3’s are typically seen in the products we usually are offered over the counter. We also realized that there are several other nutrients that have been shown in the literature to promote ocular health, including things like Omega 6, Vitamin A and D, Turmeric Extract, and Green Tea extract. There was a large-scale study, The Ocular Nutrition Impact on Tear Film, that was recently published and tested an eye health supplement containing the listed ingredients to determine its effects on the ocular surface. Now, many benefits were noted in the study’s participants, including increased tear break up time, reduced corneal staining, reduced conjunctival staining, and improved ocular surface disease index scores, which have been well established as a standardized symptom score. With the advent of newer diagnostic technologies, we’ve seen other benefits as well. InflammaDry measures inflammation on the eye. The signal strength of the positive line is directly related to the concentration of MMP9 in the tear film. We have seen a number of individuals improve from a strong positive signal at the initial presentation to eventually end up at a negative. As can be seen here, over a three-month time period, this patient went from a strong positive signal to negative. We always recommend that patients use their ocular nutrition with a meal, as this increases absorption. Ocular nutrition in the management of dry eye disease is becoming increasingly important. There are several ocular surface benefits to utilizing ocular nutrition. Reduction in ocular surface inflammation is a critical property that makes this an important part when managing the ocular surface. We hope that this has been clinically insightful.

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