The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Study: Evening primrose oil and contacts, dry eye

Here's one for all the Omega 3 (or multiple thereof...) supplement enthusiasts. It's a good reminder that we need to be looking at both the details and the big picture of essential fatty acid supplementation. I've heard a lot of people saying things like "But I thought only Omega 3s are good and we have too much Omega 6..." It's definitely not nearly as simple as that.

Oral omega-6 essential fatty acid treatment in contact lens associated dry eye.
Kokke KH, Morris JA, Lawrenson JG.
Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2008 Feb 27

PURPOSE: Symptoms of dry eye are commonly reported in contact lens wearers and are a frequent cause of non-tolerance. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the effects of oral treatment with particular omega-6 fatty acids in the form of evening primrose oil (EPO) on subjective symptoms, ocular surface signs and tear film characteristic in patients with contact lens associated dry eye. METHODS: The study design was randomised, double-masked and placebo controlled. 76 female soft contact lens wearers were treated for 6 months with either EPO or placebo (olive oil). Subjects underwent three examinations (baseline, 3 and 6 months). At each examination subjects were given a questionnaire relating to lens comfort and dry eye symptoms and underwent a series of tests of tear film characteristics (tear meniscus height, break-up time), meibomian gland function (lipid layer thickness and quality) and ocular surface parameters (hyperaemia and staining). RESULTS: The EPO group showed a significant improvement in the specific symptom of 'dryness' at 3 and 6 months (p<0.01) and also a significant improvement in overall lens comfort at 6 months (p<0.01). Tear meniscus height was increased in the EPO group at 6 months relative to baseline (p<0.01), although all other objective signs were unchanged. CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence for a beneficial effect of particular orally administered omega-6 fatty acids in alleviating dry eye symptoms and improving overall lens comfort in patients suffering from contact lens associated dry eye.

The timing is pretty amusing. I recently discontinued Evening Primrose Oil (Barleans, of course) from my shop in part of my attempt to tidy up. I've had a few stray bottles I couldn't sell even steeply discounted. If you want them click here.

And by the way, for some very interesting discussions on nutrition, dry eye, and nutritional supplementation, come visit the new(ish) nutrition & dry eye forum at Dry Eye Talk! Dr. Michael Lange has been fielding a wide range of questions and he's been an excellent, much appreciated resource.