Omega-6 fatty acids may cause dry eyes

London: Women who consume a greater amount of omega-6 fatty acids have an increased incidence of dry eye syndrome while women consuming greater amounts of omega-3s have a reduced risk of this condition, a new study has found.

Researchers studied 32,470 female health professionals aged 45-84 years who participated in the Women’s Health Study. The study authors determined the women’s fatty acid intakes by using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. They assessed the incidence of dry eye syndrome in the patients by having the subjects report if they had developed a clinically diagnosed case. Of the study sample, 1,546 (4.7 percent) reported dry eye syndrome.

After adjustment for demographic factors, hormone therapy, and total fat intake, a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid consumption was associated with a significantly increased risk of dry eye syndrome. Subjects who ate the most omega-3s, however, had a lower risk of dry eye syndrome. The researchers found a 17 percent reduced risk of dry eye syndrome for women consuming the most omega-3s compared to women consuming the least.

According to the researchers, “These results suggest that a higher dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a decreased incidence of dry eye syndrome in women.”