Writing in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 82, no 4, pp887-893), researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues note that dry eye syndrome is a prevalent condition but information on risk or protective factors is lacking.
They analysed data gathered from participants in the Women's Health Study who were aged 45-84 years old. Fatty acid intake was assessed in a food-frequency questionnaire.
After adjustment for demographic factors, hormone therapy, and total fat intake, those in the highest quintile of omega-3 fatty acid intake were 17 per cent less likely to develop the syndrome.
They also found that a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 consumption was associated with a significantly increased risk of the syndrome.
In addition, consumption of tuna - a fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids - was inversely associated with the condition.
The team says their findings "are consistent with anecdotal clinical observations and postulated biological mechanisms".