The benefit of supplements

Tackling dry eye with omega 3 supplementation should be on the agenda for more clinicians, Saj Khan told 100% Optical delegates


Consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Saj Khan, outlined the role of nutritional supplements in dry eye at 100% Optical (12–14 January, ExCeL London).

He told delegates that he believes supplements should be used more commonly in practice.

Mr Khan emphasised his belief that too many clinicians take a reactive approach.

“Being proactive and preventing problems is much better,” he shared.

Turning to ocular surface disease, Mr Khan shared that conservative estimates suggest that between 30%-40% of the population have dry eye, while more aggressive estimates put the prevalence at 80%.

“In my own practice, I would say that I am closer to 80% than 40%,” he shared.

Mr Khan highlighted that people are beginning to realise how much of an impact living with dry eye has on quality of life.

He added that the daily impact of the disease has been compared to living with angina, while those who have dry eye are 50% more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

The condition can affect productivity at work and a patient’s driving ability.

“As people have come to appreciate that it is a more significant issue, we’ve paid more attention to it,” he said.

Possible avenues for treating dry eye include fatty acid supplementation, ocular lubricants, lid hygiene, warm compresses and dietary modification, Mr Khan shared.

Modern diets resulted in people consuming high amounts of omega 6 and low amounts of omega 3, he said.

Mr Khan observed that while the ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 would be 1:1, modern diets have a ratio of 1:25 in favour of omega 6.

Omega 3 is found in oily fish and is anti-inflammatory while omega 6 is found in processed foods and promotes inflammation.

Mr Khan added that the Mediterranean diet brings the omega ratio closer to 1:1.

“It’s not that we don’t want any omega 6, it’s just that we don’t want too much of it,” Mr Khan highlighted.

Mr Khan recommended the use of re-esterified omega 3 supplements in dry eye patients.

He said that this form of omega 3 is better absorbed and does not result in ‘fish burps.’

Image credit: Peter Rosbjerg