According to the data pooled from nine previously conducted studies, published in the June issue of Archives of Opthalmology, [i] the most marked benefits relate to more advanced AMD, although increasing one’s intake of omega-3 is associated with a lower risk of both early and late onset of AMD.
AMD is the prime cause of blindness over the age of 55 in the West, according to AMD Alliance International. Its incidence is not insignificant, with 25-30 million people affected worldwide. Scientists are predicting these figures to increase as the unhealthy generation of baby boomers gets older.
AMD is a degenerative disease of the retina, causing loss of central vision which leaves sufferers with only peripheral vision. Early detection is crucial as it can enable effective treatment to be prescribed before the condition worsens.
This recent study is welcome news because it suggests that we can and should take a proactive approach to our health. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids form building blocks in the layer of nerve cells in the retina, therefore playing an important part in maintaining healthy eyesight. According to the lead author of the study, “a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fish, as a proxy for long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake, has therefore been hypothesised as a means to prevent AMD”.
Additionally, the outer photoreceptor (cell segments of the outer retina) are constantly shred in the normal visual cycle and deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids may initiate AMD. The researchers have also highlighted the protective effect of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids against oxygenic, inflammatory and age-associated pathology of the vascular and neural retina, all of which are thought to affect the onset of AMD. All the more reason, we believe, to ensure that your diet is rich in the important bioavailable fatty acids.
[i]: Chong, E.W.-T., Kreis, A.J., Wong, T.Y. ,. Simpson, J.A, Guymer, R.H. “Dietary -3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake in the Primary Prevention of Age-Related Macular Degeneration – A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol.126:6 pp. 826-833