Adding more fuel to their findings that fish oil isn’t effective in alleviating dry eye symptoms, the researchers behind the Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) study found patients who stopped taking omega-3s for one year fared just as well as those who continued taking the supplements.

The 12-month extension study included 21 patients who previously took the omega-3s as part of the one-year primary investigation and were given the refined olive oil placebo instead. The control group enrolled 22 subjects who continued with the fish oil treatment over the same time period.

The study’s primary outcome was change in the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) score. Secondary outcomes included change in conjunctival staining, corneal staining, tear break-up time, Schirmer test and any adverse events.

Investigators reported the approximate change in the OSDI scores was similar between the groups at 12 and 24 months (about -0.6 points). Additionally, researchers found no major differences between the groups in the overall change in conjunctival staining (about -0.5 points), corneal staining (-0.3 points), tear break-up time (-0.8 seconds) and Schirmer test (0.6mm). Both groups also had the same rates of adverse events.

Among patients who received omega-3 supplements for 12 months in the primary trial, those who discontinued use for an additional 12 months didn’t have significantly worse outcomes compared with those who continued taking fish oil, the researchers concluded.

Hussain M, Shtein RM, Pistilli M, et al. The Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) extension study—A randomized clinical trial of withdrawal of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid in patients with dry eye disease. Ocul Surf. August 16, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].