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    Risks associated with omega-3 supplementation

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    During my preoperative visit, my surgeon handed me a list of no less then 165 medications and supplements that I should stop taking 14 days prior to my surgery. Fish and krill oil were on the list, as were aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

    (NSAIDs)as expected.

    Being the over-achiever that I am, I ceased taking my krill oil and NSAIDs 18 days prior to surgery and proceeded to complain about my aches and pains until those aches and pains were replaced by postoperative pain.

    At my follow-up visit on Day 18, I inquired when I could resume my daily intake of supplements and NSAIDs. The surgeon’s response surprised me. I could take my NSAIDs as needed for pain but should refrain for an extended period of time from omega-3 supplementation due to its blood-thinning properties.

    Previously from Dr. Schroeder-Swartz: How to combat stress in your life

    I was surprised when my surgeon said he equated omega-3s to Plavix (clopidogrel, Bristol-Myers Squibb), a medication used to prevent platelets from clotting in patients with a history of heart attack or stroke. My surgeon reported patients losing skin grafts and suffering excessive bruising due to fish oil supplementation—most often when patients did not report taking it preoperatively.

    He asked if I supported taking supplements, particularly fish oil, in my patients, and I said that I did. He said he was unconvinced about the positive cardiac effects of fish oil and did not think that the risk was warranted. My recommendation of fish oil for my dry eye patients, and those with arthritis and elevated cholesterol, was also discussed.

    Upon clearing my head from my postoperative pain medication regime, I looked into the side effects and contraindications for omega-3 fatty acids.

    Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO
    Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the ...


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