Fish oils could help prevent age-related blindness

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Roman Bystrianyk, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Superfoods containing omega 3 and fish oils may help prevent the most
    common cause of blindness in old age, say scientists.

    The benefits of eating oily fish like mackerel and nuts are already
    recognised in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease and heart

    But new US research suggests omega 3 fatty acids can also protect
    against the loss of vision that develops with age, known as AMD (age-
    related macular degeneration).

    Around 200,000 Britons each year suffer AMD and there is no
    preventative treatment, although laser surgery and drugs can limit
    damage caused by the disease.

    It is the most common cause of sight loss in people over 50 and robs
    people of the central vision necessary for reading, driving or simply
    recognising people's faces.

    A team at the National Eye Institute in Maryland, US, who fed mice
    with high levels of Omega 3 found those eating more fish oils had
    lower levels of AMD.

    The condition improved in 57 per cent of mice fed the highest levels
    for at least 12 weeks, compared with just four per cent on lower
    levels of omega 3.

    It is unclear how omega 3 works but the mechanism may be anti-

    The mice that responded best had lower levels of inflammation -
    thought to be linked with the development of AMD - and higher rates of
    anti-inflammatory molecules.

    In a report that will appear in the American Journal of Pathology next
    month, the scientists said 'The results provide the scientific basis
    for omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of AMD.

    Dr Chi-Chao Chan, who led the research team, said the results should
    apply in humans although the exact amount and duration of omega 3
    needed to confer long-term benefits had to be determined.

    She said: 'The results in these mice are in line with epidemiological
    studies of AMD risk reduction and we plan to use this model to
    evaluate other therapies that might delay the development of the

    'We think the findings are applicable in humans and it probably means
    a daily intake of omega 3.'

    The findings suggest regular consumption of a diet high in omega 3
    would cut the risk of the disease and might also improve sight if
    taken up after it had developed, she added.

    Britons are currently advised to eat fish at least twice a week,
    including one portion of oily fish.

    The best dietary source of omega 3 fatty acids is oily fish because
    the human body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids.

    There has been an explosion in the number of foods fortified with
    omega-3 oils, such as chickens, margarine, eggs, milk and bread, but
    they contain only small amounts.

    Types of fish that contain high levels include tuna, salmon, mackerel,
    herring, sardines, and anchovies.

    Fish oil supplements are recommended as protection against heart
    attacks and sudden death, with regular fish eaters a third more likely
    to survive a heart attack.

    Omega 3 fats work in several ways to reduce heart attack risk by
    cutting blood fats, reducing the chances of a blood clot and blocking
    dangerous heart rhythms that might otherwise prove fatal.

    In addition, trials have shown fish oils can help prevent depression.

    Taking fish oils in pregnancy has been found to reduce the risk of
    high blood pressure, and improve birthweight.

    Previous research also shows supplements of certain antioxidant
    vitamins and other nutrients may ward off AMD.
    Roman Bystrianyk, Jul 27, 2009
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