Omega 3 Fatty Acids good for Dry Eye and Ocular Rosacea


This just published paper is confirming that the long term usage of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are a great supplement for ocular rosacea sufferers. According to the main measures related to ocular rosacea symptoms, 6 months supplementation of Omega 3 FAs, will offer relief to ocular rosacea symptoms – as indicated by the following quantitative measurements ;

  • TBUT: tear file break up time – this is the time in seconds for a dry spot to appear on the surface of the eye after a blink occurs. The eye is held open for this measurement, and a dye is used to aid in the detection of the dry spot event. A breakup time of greater than 10 seconds is considered normal, dry eye can be confirmed with a shorter breakup time.
  • Schirmer Score – used to measure how quickly your eyes produce tears. A special paper strip is placed on the lower eyelid for around 5 minutes and a measure of much moisture is generated is used to detect dry eye.
  • MGS: Meibomian Gland Score – a score relating to the meibomian gland secretion characteristics.

Patients were selected based on sufferers response to the Dry Eye Scoring System (DESS).

The DESS is a questionnaire consisting of 12 questions designed to assess the symptoms of ocular irritation, covering 3 areas: ocular symptoms, environmental triggers and vision-related function [pubmed].

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

O3FAs are polyunsaturated fats that are not made in the body, are essential to life, so must be sourced from our diet.

Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables

For those missing Omega-3 in their diet, supplements are available.

Article Abstract

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Rosacea Patients with Dry Eye Symptoms

Curr Eye Res. 2016 Apr 6:1-7

Objective or purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of dietary omega-3 fatty acids (O3FAs) in rosacea patients having dry eye symptoms.

METHODS: A prospective, interventional, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, multi-centric study was done.

Symptomatic patients with rosacea were recruited based on their response to (Dry Eye Scoring System, DESS©); a score of 0-3 was assigned to dry eye-related symptoms like ocular fatigue, blurring of vision, itching or burning, sandy or gritty sensation, and redness, respectively (DESS©).

Subjects were (n = 130) were randomized to receive either O3FAs (n = 65) or placebo (n = 65) capsules (olive oil) twice daily for 6 months.

Patients were evaluated at baseline, 1, 3, and 6 months.

Change in subjective dry eye symptoms was the primary outcome measure. Change in meibomian gland score (MGS), Schirmer score, and tear film breakup time (TBUT) were the secondary outcome measures.

RESULTS: Repeated-measures ANOVA revealed that there was a significant (p < 0.001) change in symptoms (F(1.506, 88.825 = 315.193), MGS (F(1.336, 78.796 = 84.438), Schirmer score (F(1.322, 78.022 = 86.559), and TBUT (F(1.354, 79.898 = 179.020.559) in O3FA group as compared to placebo group.

Post-hoc test revealed that there was a significant change in dry eye symptoms at all points of time; there was a significant change in MGS, Schirmer score, and TBUT also, but only after 3 months of intervention.

Linear regression established that symptom severity could significantly predict MGS, Schirmer score, and TBUT. There was a significant change in the slope (intercept) of the regression plots in O3FA group as compared to the placebo group.

CONCLUSION: Rosacea patients with dry eye symptoms have significant improvement in symptoms, MGS, TBUT, and Schirmer score, following dietary intervention with O3FAs for 6 months.

Diet and Rosacea and Acne Symptoms

The role of diet in acne and rosacea symptoms has been an active area of research for several years.

The Role of Diet in Acne and Rosacea [PDF]

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2008 Sep; 1(3): 22–26, 2008 Sep; 1(3): 22–26.

Another novel dietary influence in rosacea patients may be the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Recently, there is evidence in the ophthalmology literature that supplements or foods that contain such fatty acids may help with dry eyes.33 Some dermatologists have been using flax seed oil that contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acid to help combat ocular rosacea.

33. Rashid S, Jin Y, Ecoiffier T, et al. Topical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for treatment of dry eye.Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;162(2):219–225. [PubMed]

Are you In ?

It might take as long as 6 months, but would you be willing to give O3FAs a try ?

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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15 Reader Comments

  1. Comment via email from Jim.

    “Hi David,

    For information:

    Interesting article on Omega 3 improving dry eyes? I have both rosacea and very dry eyes. Been taking taking fish oil capsules for joint pain for a couple of years but noticed no improvement with my eyes.

    Tried all the drops imaginable – nothing gave much relief. However, eight months ago, following cataract removal surgery, the surgeon prescribed Manuka honey eye gel-drops and there has been a remakable improvement. The product has only recently been released on the market, made by a company called Opti Mel and apparently it has powerful antibacterial qualities. It just seems to be clinical-grade manuka honey.

    I read that bacteria cannot live in honey and apparently, when excavating the Egyptian Mummies they found honey still as good as the day it was buried because bacteria will not spoil it.

    Anyway, it has done my dry eyes a world of good. It stings like heck when first applied for a half-minute, the eyes water but that feeling is soon gone, the red pupils clear, any blepharitis that has been there goes, the eyes and eye-lids look healthy and feel comfortable. I apply twice a day. It is quite expensive on the internet $25 to $50, (probably plus postage). It is available at a Brisbane eye hospital over the counter for $20 and one container lasts about a month. Tried the drops first but found the gel gave far better results

    You might find this info useful?


  2. Comment via FB from Tracy.

    “My ophthalmologist told me to take 1200 mg of fish oil and 1000 mg of flax seed oil each day. Plus lubricating eye drops four times a day, which I find I prefer Genteal gel at night and Systane Ultra in the day. Then a warm compress once a day for 20 minutes and clean eyelids twice a day. That has made a huge difference.”

  3. Patricia says:

    Good Morning David from Victoria BC Canada. I could not determine from the study how much O3FO the subjects were given in the study. Can you elaborate on that? Many thanks

  4. Doug says:

    Are you trying to find out the dosage used in the study?

  5. As far as recommended dosage for an ex-diet supplementation is concerned, the answer is complex. Best to take the advice of a doctor (or change your diet).

    For some background see – The Role of Omega-3 Dietary Supplementation in Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (An AOS Thesis)

    Manufacturers of flaxseed oil recommend taking between 1 and 6 1000-mg capsules daily. Based on literature from a variety of manufacturers, flaxseed oil is approximately 55% omega-3 FA (ALA), 15% omega-6 FA (linoleic acid), and 19% omega-9 FA (oleic acid). Thus, we proposed that patients in this study take 6 1000-mg capsules of flaxseed oil each day. This would make their total dose of omega-3 FAs 3.3 g/day, well within the moderate dose range (2 to 5 g/day). [67] Patients taking omega-3 FAs within this dose range have demonstrated no clinical evidence of an increased bleeding tendency. [86, 87] Additionally, this dosage has affected disease changes in other groups of patients.

    A 1-year dietary supplementation trial with 6 g of fish oil daily in renal transplant patients demonstrated a beneficial effect on renal homodynamic, blood pressure, and improved graft survival.[88] In patients with IgA nephropathy, treatment with fish oil for 2 years slowed the decrease of renal function. [73] Omega-3 FAs lower plasma triglycerides and improve red cell flexibility in patients with lupus nephritis. [72,89]

  6. Calla says:

    I believe cod liver oil capsules greatly reduce my ocular rosacea symptoms.

  7. Roberta Beach says:

    I saw the studies on your site re ocular rosacea, and though I just have regular rosacea, and have had for well over a decade, I decided to try the omega 3-6-9 as someone suggested. To my surprise, after the flareup in May 2016, three weeks after starting one capsule a day supplement, my rosacea totally cleared up and I haven’t had any signs of it in 5 months. I’m thinking maybe I was lacking something for years, as I also noticed my craving for nuts or peanut butter decreased. Might be worth a try.

  8. response via email.

    “I dont know where to share this. But having had rosacea for years. Just treated with metrogel topical on flareups. I read research on omega 3 supplements. Started taking during a flareup in May. Vanished in 3 weeks. and haven’t had any rosacea since.”

    • “Just a further up to that Omega 3 info. I don’t know if ypu have heard any other info, but I have had no flareups of rosacea since I started Omega3-6-9 one year ago, and had never gone longer than 3 months before. My daughter-in-law developed rosacea in the past few months. I told her what I had tried and within two weeks, her rosacea also cleared up.”

  9. “I hope they do a study on flaxseed oil, bc I’d rather take that”

    “Still unsure of the daily dose recommended though.”

  10. “I take 3,000 to 5,000 omega 3’s daily. And I also take Safflower oil which has Omega’s. You have to be careful as it thins your blood. So start with the lowest dose and see how you do and then you can increase. “

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