Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘supplements

The Eyes Have It

leave a comment »

Canada has a public health system – but it has some strange gaps. This may be because we are so close to the US, which has a completely broken “free market” system. We can see a doctor for free, and if we go to a hospital and need treatment there that is free too. But if we need medication and don’t need hospitalization then we have to pay for the treatment. Many people get additional coverage through health insurance for things like drugs, dentistry and spectacles (eyeglasses) that are not covered by the public system. We also have to pay for anything that the eye doctor might prescribe – and my particular plan does not cover things like eye drops.

The last time I went to see the opthamologist she suggested that I get eye drops of Dry Eye. In fact she gave me a sheet of recommended products – not just eye drops but a hot compress and even an Omega 3 supplement. Now that did surprise me. Because one of the things that we keep track of in this household is the effectiveness of nutritional supplements. Most of them have not been tested in the same way that medicines are, to show that they are both safe and effective. And frankly a lot of the nutritional supplements are not necessary, if you have a balanced diet.

But is it also the case that you can find out for yourself if the nutritional supplement actually has any benefits at all. It is claimed, on the document from my eye doctor, that Omega 3 “helps decrease inflammation, promotes good health and helps dry eyes”. I find that surprising since the National Institutes of Health said “Omega-3s from fish oil supplements are no better than placebo for dry eye. NIH-funded study finds omega-3 fails to yield beneficial results in the clinic.”

“The trial provides the most reliable and generalizable evidence thus far on omega-3 supplementation for dry eye disease,” said Maryann Redford, D.D.S., M.P.H., program officer for clinical research at NEI. Despite insufficient evidence establishing the effectiveness of omega-3s, clinicians and their patients have been inclined to try the supplements for a variety of conditions with inflammatory components, including dry eye. “This well-controlled investigation conducted by the independently-led Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Research Group shows that omega-3 supplements are no better than placebo for typical patients who suffer from dry eye.”

This was published on line in the New England Journal of Medicine, April 13, 2018.

In the current Canadian Election campaign the New Democrats are suggesting that if they become the government they will include eyes and teeth in “Medicare” (which is actually the name of the US system, not ours) – but only for households with incomes under $90,000 a year, which indicates for me that they do not understand the meaning of free universal healthcare for all which is what we were supposed to be getting … in due course, I suppose.

I think is says a lot about North America when a country like Cuba has a better healthcare – and education come to that – than either Canada or the US.

Charging people $55 for Omega 3 which is no better than placebo is a pretty sharp practice, I think. But is seems to be common. After all, the guy who did my most recent eye test also said that I should take Omega 3 – but at least he didn’t try to sell me anything.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Posted in health

Tagged with