Flaxseed oil helps to prevent dry eye after LASIK

San Francisco-Flaxseed oil seems to be as effective as doxycycline in preventing the development of dry eye after LASIK. Colin C.K. Chan, MD, speculated that the reason may be due to its anti-inflammatory and lipid-modifying properties. He presented his ideas at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

While the interest in the health-related properties of flaxseed oil has been escalating, Dr. Chan noted that no published studies have looked at the clinical use of flaxseed oil for dry eye.

"We had previously studied doxycycline and found that it was useful after LASIK for dry eye outcomes," he explained.

The main study outcome measure was dry eye grading on a scale of 2 to 5 using the KOWA DR-1 tear interferometer; using that scale, increased scores indicated increasing loss of the lipid layer. In addition, they graded the use of artificial tears on a scale ranging from 0 to 4, where 0 indicated no use and 4 indicated more than q.i.d. use. The measurements were done before LASIK and at 3 months after LASIK.

"There was no difference in the preoperative and postoperative grading of the tear interferometer between the flaxseed oil group and the doxycycline group," Dr. Chan said. "In addition, there was no substantial increase in the grading of dry eye 3 months after LASIK."

When investigators did subgroup analysis based on gender, age, and contact lens wear, the only relevant finding was that women had slightly higher postoperative dry eye gradings, as expected, he said.

There was also very little difference when they looked at the use of artificial tears in the two groups that was generally a score of 1, indicating occasional, once-daily use. They again found a very mild trend for women to use more artificial tears than men, according to Dr. Chan.