Fatty acid eye drops can curb symptoms of dry eye syndrome, study says

A new study conducted by the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard, says eye drops containing alpha-linolenic acid significantly reduced symptoms of dry eye syndrome in mice.

Boston-A new study conducted by the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard, says eye drops containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) significantly reduced symptoms of dry eye syndrome in mice. The omega-3 fatty acid is not produced by the body and must be obtained through diet.

Reza Dana, MD, professor, Harvard Medical School, and director, Cornea Service, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and colleagues tested three formulations of fatty acids: 0.2% ALA; 0.2% linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid); and 0.01% ALA combined with 0.1% linoleic acid.

While some mice received daily treatment with these eye drops, other mice did not receive any eye drops and mice treated with ALA showed a significant reversal in epithelial damage to the cornea.

"Using topical formulations of fatty acids to treat dry eye would allow for more flexibility for treatment, including lessening side effects that patients can experience from oral intake of fatty acids. Clinical studies with topical fatty acids are being planned, which, if successful, could alter the method by which this common condition is treated," Dr. Dana said.