For a long time now our Blepharitis Treatment Guide has promoted Omega 3 Fatty Acids as a great way to prevent blepharitis.
However, after further research it seems like not only can Omega 3 prevent blepharitis, it can also play a very powerful role in treating an outbreak.
The full article can be found here but to be honest it’s a heavyweight scientific piece of writing and not for the fainthearted.
We’ve done our best to outline the article’s findings in layman’s terms.
The article begins by outlining what the problem of blepharitis is! Most readers are already familiar with the painful symptoms of blepharitis even if they’re unsure what exactly it is. So we won’t go into too much detail.
In a healthy eye, when you blink, the soft pressure of your eyelid closing, spreads (or expresses) the contents of the Meibomian Gland across the tear fim. This fluid is called Meibum and benefits the eye in a number of ways.
Not only does healthy Meibum slow the evaporation of the tear fim, thus preventing Dry Eye, it also helps the eye ward off contamination, aids vision and actually plays a vital role in the way that your eyelids seal during sleep.
However when blepharitis strikes, the inflammation in the eyelid damages the Meibum and the ability to secrete it across the tear film.
Leading to the all-too painful symptoms that we associate with Blepharitis
Interestingly it says that the cause of blepharitis is still not fully understood. Some people believe that a change in the Ocular Surface may cause inflammation which then triggers the all-too familiar problems. Others hypothesise that the problem is triggered by a changein Tear Film.
The article also notes that there are significant overlaps in the problem of Blepharitis and MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction) but for the sake of simplicity we’ll refer to it as one common disease!
Experts believe that an increase in consumption of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (which decreases the ratio of Omega 6 to Omage 3) is helpful in the treatment of blepharitis for one of two reasons:
1) The breakdown of Omega 3 in the body results in a decrease in inflammation, whereas Omega 6 does the opposite, stimulating inflammation. Therefore reducing the Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio reduces inflammation in the body as a whole, benefitting the eye as much as the rest of the body.
2) Another theory is that the Omega 3 itself changes the composition of the Meibum thereby curing the problems of blepharitis and MGD.
To test their hypothesis, the group administered a dose of 2000mg (in 2 pills) 3 times a day. This group were then monitored against a placebo group and an objective evaluation of Eye Health was drawn up, including Ocular Surface Disease Index, Meibum Score, and Tear Breakup Time.
38 people started the project and 30 finished it. Although it was only a small group the results were extremely encouraging:
The group reported a 36% reduction in the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio in Red Blood Cells and a 31% decrease in plasma.
This decrease in ratio (or increase in Omega 3) improved the ‘performance’ of all the chosen metric – OSDI, Meibum Score and Tear Breakup Time.
The experiment was conducted with people who were taking no other treatment for blepharitis other than the Omega 3 supplementation. So, the results are almightily impressive. Combined with other forms of treatment (heat compresses and eye drops) it could well be that a lower dose of Omega 3 would work just as well or that improvements would be seen in a quicker time frame.
Given the (relatively) low cost of Omega 3 supplements and their ready availability it’s definitly worth including them in your Eye Hygiene regime for prevention or taking a course of supplements the next time you suffer from an outbreak of blepharitis.