No Tears

No Tears

You’d truly have something to cry about if a malfunction in the glands around your eyes prevented you from making tears.

Tears contain a precise balance of water, salt, proteins, mucus, and oil. Throw off the balance of those components and you could develop dry eye syndrome (DES), a condition that creates an irritating, sometimes gritty sensation under the eyelid. Chronic DES can damage the cornea and lead to vision loss.

A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Schepens Eye Research Institute conducted a DES study using data collected from the Women’s Health Study. Dietary intake was assessed for more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84. About 1,500 subjects had been diagnosed with DES.

Analysis of the data produced these findings:

  • Women who had the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids were 20 percent more likely to develop DES compared to women with the highest intake
  • A higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a significantly higher risk of DES
  • Omega-3 from tuna provided the most impressive prevention of DES: Women who ate five or more tuna servings per week reduced DES risk by more than 65 percent compared to women who had only one serving of tuna per week

DES affects eight to 10 million people in the U.S. – mostly women.