Dear Dr. Roach: I am a 65-year-old female who does not take any medication. During my latest exam, the eye doctor said I may have a dry-eye issue and recommended using some lubricating eyedrops. I have no problem with that, but he also suggested taking a 1,000-mg omega-3 (fish oil) capsule twice a day. I would appreciate your opinion if there is really any proven benefit to taking fish oil capsules for dry eyes. D.F.
Answer: Fish oil supplements have been used for many purposes, including to help with dry eyes, for years. However, a well-done study from April 2018 showed pretty clearly that the effect of fish oil supplementation for dry eyes was no better than an identical capsule containing olive oil as a placebo. Interestingly, over half of the placebo group reported improvement in their dry eyes.
Omega-3 supplements generally are safe and have few side effects, but they do not seem to help dry eyes, according to the largest and most comprehensive study. Unfortunately, a paper just printed showed that they have no significant benefit in preventing heart disease or cancer.
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