Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in eye health. While previous research has shown that fish oil supplementation can protect against dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration, a study published last week demonstrated that fish oil supplementation may significantly reduce intraocular pressure, which helps to lower the risk of ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) tends to rise in Western populations where there are lower intakes of polyunsaturated fats.
In this study, 105 individuals 18 years of age and older were randomized to take one of the following: a krill oil supplement containing 945 mg/d of EPA and 510 mg/d of DHA, a fish oil supplement containing 1000 mg/d EPA and 500 mg/d DHA, a fish oil supplement containing 900 mg/d EPA and 600 mg/d DHA, an essential fatty acid supplement containing 900 mg/d EPA with 600 mg/d DHA and 900 mg/d ALA, or a placebo supplement containing 1500 mg/d of olive oil for three months. Intraocular pressure was measured at baseline and at the three month follow-up visit.
Results showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation significantly reduced intraocular pressure in adults consuming a Western diet. This is the first study that demonstrates that fish oil supplementation can modulate intraocular pressure in humans, which can reduce the need for topical IOP-lowering agents.
Fish oils offer numerous other benefits for eye health. They provide neuroprotective benefits to the sensory peripheral nerves in the cornea and support the function of the retina, which is the area associated with glaucoma and dry eye syndrome.
Additional nutrients and antioxidants that help support eye health include vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS