Novaliq announced NovaTears+Omega-3, the first omega-3-containing eye drop registered in Europe for the enhanced treatment of the signs and symptoms of evaporative dry eye (EDE), early this month. This first-in-class, water- and preservative-free, clear eye drop contains high concentrations (0.2%) of plant-derived omega-3 ethyl ester.

The combo therapy is a line extension of Novaliq’s existing CE-marked product NovaTears, which has been marketed under the trade name EvoTears in Europe since 2015. NovaTears is a first-in-class artificial tear that specifically addresses the lipid layer of the tear film without causing vision blurring, a common problem with other eye drops. With the supplementation of omega-3, the therapeutic effect of NovaTears is further boosted, offering patients physiological benefits by stabilising the lipid layer and reducing tear evaporation and additional relief of dry eye symptoms. Currently, both NovaTears and NovaTears+Omega-3 are only available in Europe, but NovaTears is on track to be submitted for US and Japanese approval in 2021 and 2018, respectively.

EDE is characterised by tear film abnormality due to excessive tear evaporation, while tear secretion remains normal. The lipid layer, which protects the tear film and prevents tear evaporation in healthy subjects, is compromised in dry eye patients with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Such deficiency resulted from MGD is also known to be the predominant cause of dry eye.

Omega-3 supplementary therapy is not a novel idea to ophthalmologists and optometrists; in fact, it is well known that this essential fatty acid is crucial for infant eye development and also plays a role in protecting adult eyes from macular degeneration, decreasing high eye pressure and glaucoma. Doctors always recommend regular omega-3 regimens to their EDE patients. Traditional artificial tears, which have been the mainstay therapy for dry eye syndrome (DES), are unable to address the underlying etiology of DES; hence, patients can only receive temporary relief.

With the prevalent evidence showing the copious therapeutic effects offered by omega-3, it seems like there are decent reasons for omega-3 excitement. Not only can this essential fatty acid help reduce inflammation associated with EDE by preventing lacrimal gland apoptosis and the subsequent increase in tear film osmolarity, but also it increases tear production and improves the tear lipid layer by promoting oil secretions from the Meibomian glands, thereby enhancing tear film stability. Collectively, omega-3 has a huge potential to address the underlying etiology of EDE, which cannot be addressed by traditional artificial tears. However, omega-3 fatty acids could only be reliably supplemented through diets or balanced nutrition.

The recently introduced NovaTears+Omega-3 successfully incorporates omega-3 into NovaTears, representing the first eye drops containing omega-3. This innovative breakthrough will surely be a welcome and long-desired addition to the EDE treatment arsenal in Europe, offering a new hope for patients who have dry eye issues with an origin in MGD.

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