Omega-3, bilberry & lutein may relieve digital eye strain

Victims suffering from tired and sore eyes may find relief from their symptoms by taking an omega-3 supplement with added bilberry and lutein.

Stiff shoulders, lower back pain and headaches resulting from the use of sore, tired eyes that feel this way because of prolonged staring at visual screens, are common discomforts seen in resource rich societies. These pains are collectively termed, symptoms of asthenopia.

A study conducted in the year 2011 by Dr. Fuminori and Dr. Tomoko from the institute of, ‘Human Life Science Research & Development Centre’ in Japan, investigated whether an omega-3 supplement with added bilberry and lutein could relieve patients of their asthenopia symptoms for a better quality of life.

The rationale behind the three ingredients is that firstly omega-3 is particularly known for its role in eye health with numerous studies demonstrating its diverse benefits, secondly bilberry has been used for centuries as medicine and is said to benefit eye health in numerous ways and more recently, lutein has been suggested to also be beneficial for the eyes.

This study, as reported in The Journal of Biomedical Research, involved 20 healthy patients aged between 20 and 34 years, with ‘mildly’ or ‘very’ tired eyes who sit in front of a visual display for more than four hours a day. They were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or a treatment capsule. Each treatment capsule contained 165.5 mg of fish oil, 20 mg of bilberry and 7.5 mg of lutein. The placebo capsule contained none of these ingredients but had instead fatty acids of the non-health benefit type. Participants swallowed four capsules, three times a day. Patients reported their changes in asthenopia symptoms and mental fatigue with questionnaires.

Eye-fatigue, bleary eyes, eye redness and eye flickering symptoms improved in patients taking the supplement. Compared to the non-active group, symptoms of stiff shoulder, lower back pain and frustration significantly improved for those in the active group (omega-3, bilberry and lutein). Further still, patients taking the treatment had significantly reduced symptoms of dry eyes and stuffy head in comparison to the placebo group that had no change by the end of the trial.

Symptoms of eye discomfort weren’t the only improvements seen by the researchers. Participants taking the treatment supplement had significant improvements in their mental fatigue while the scores remained unchanged in the placebo group.

These results suggest that symptoms of asthenopia and mental fatigue can be improved with a supplement containing a mixture of omega-3 fatty acids, bilberry extract and lutein.


Kawabata, F. and T. Tsuji, Effects of dietary supplementation with a combination of fish oil, bilberry extract, and lutein on subjective symptoms of asthenopia in humans.Biomed Res, 2011. 32(6): p. 387-93.

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