Are Omega-3 Supplements as Effective as We Think?

By Min Seo Jeong

Millions of dollars are inputted annually towards the sale of fish- and animal-derived supplements. However, the current research present in literature does not provide sufficient evidence for the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which has led to attempts to implement it for a variety of conditions. This trial concludes that the omega-3 supplements are no more effective than placebos prescribed for dry eye patients. According to Maryann Redford, program officer for clinical research at the NEI, "the trial provides the most reliable and generalizable evidence thus far on omega-3 supplementation for dry eye disease."

All of the 535 participants of the trial had moderate to severe dry eye, a disease where the eye coating is unable to keep up a healthy ocular surface and can lead to visual impairment. Of the participants, 349 were given daily doses of grams of omega-3 fatty acids. The remaining participants were given 5 grams of olive oil in the same capsules as the omega-3. Since omega-3s are used as an add-on to other treatments, the participants were allowed to take other dry eye medications during the trial.

The results were measured in relation to the Ocular Surface Disease Index baseline used to assess dry eye symptoms, as well as clinical tests measuring tears and cornea integrity. There were no significant differences found in improvement of symptoms or signs of dry eye between the two groups, suggesting that omega-3 supplements do not have significant positive effects on dry eye in comparison to placebos.

This trial was conducted by the ry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Research Group and was unded by the National Eye Institute (NEI).


NIH/National Eye Institute. "Omega-3s from fish oil supplements no better than placebo for dry eye: Sudy finds omega-3 fails to yield beneficial results in the clinic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2018. <>.