~ Study Finds Increased Omega 3 Fatty Acid Intake May Reduce Risk of Dry Eye Syndrome

A study conducted as a collaboration between the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (82, 4:887-93, 2005) found that increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with a decreased risk of development of dry eye syndrome (DES).

In a cross-sectional study, researchers assessed fatty acid intakes of 32,470 women ages 45 to 84 who participated in the Women's Health Study (WHS) and completed a validated food-frequency questionnaire. After adjusting for demographic factors, hormone therapy and total fat intake, researchers found a 17% reduction in risk for DES in the highest versus the lowest quintile of omega-3 fatty acid intake. A high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 consumption significantly increased the risk of DES.

Researchers stated that while DES is a common condition, information concerning risk factors and preventive measures is limited. DES occurs when tear gland production decreases. Symptoms range from mild irritation and the sensation of something in the eye, to severe discomfort and sensitivity to light.

DES often occurs in people who are otherwise healthy but is more common in old age due to reduced tear production in aging. Less commonly, DES can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic conditions.

Omega-3 EFAs are helpful in many chronic conditions. Correcting a deficiency of Omega-3 EFAs can reduce inflammation and prevent chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. People who regularly consume Omega-3 EFAs tend to have higher HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

Several studies suggest that Omega-3 EFAs may reduce high blood pressure. Population-based studies show that Omega-3 EFAs protect against strokes caused by arterial plaque and blood clots. Studies of heart attack survivors have shown that Omega-3 EFAs may dramatically reduce mortality from subsequent heart attacks and strokes. Infants born to mothers who are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids are at increased risk for vision and nerve development problems.

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