The DREAM study.
What’s the DREAM study?
The Dry Eye Assessment and Management trial. It’s a year long study to evaluate the effects of long-term omega-3 supplementation for symptomatic moderate to severe dry eye disease.
Tell me about the patients.
A total of 535 patients from 27 different centers across the US were included. The average age was 58 and 80% of the patients were female.
Let’s recap the study.
The patients were divided into two groups, an active group and a placebo group. The active group took 5 capsules per day that contained 400 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA, for a total daily dose of 2000 mg of EPA and 1000 mg of DHA. The placebo group took 5 capsules per day that contained 1000 mg of refined olive oil for a total daily dose of 5000 mg. Both groups took these supplements for 12 months.
And the results were…
In both groups, there was an improvement in patient symptoms as well as an improvement in conjunctival staining, corneal staining, and tear break-up time.
Why is this study all over the news?
Because the biggest headline from the study was that oral omega-3 supplements were no better than placebo for dry eye disease.
What are experts saying?
Hold up, that wasn’t a great choice for the placebo. Olive oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties which might explain why both arms showed similar improvements in symptoms. Also, omega-3 fatty acids have a multitude of health benefits that have been well documented in many different studies.
What did the study authors say about the olive oil placebo?
“The daily placebo was approximately 1 teaspoon of olive oil, which primarily delivers n−9 oleic acid, a substance that is considered to be neutral with respect to changes in symptoms and signs of dry eye disease.”
The take home.
There are a lot of opinions on this study and you will likely hear them debated over the next few months. Look past the headlines and read the study before taking a stance.