According to a new study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and oily fish appear to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss among older adults. New treatments for AMD carry risks and treat only certain forms of the disease. Therefore, preventing AMD by modifying risk factors, like cigarette smoking and diet, are important.
The researchers pooled data from nine "observational" studies that evaluated omega-3 or fish intake in the prevention of AMD. The findings are based on a total of 88,974 people, which included 1847 cases of early AMD and 1356 cases of late (more advanced) AMD.
According to the researchers, a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a 38 percent reduction in the risk of late AMD, while eating fish twice a week was associated with a reduced risk of both early and late AMD.
EPA and DHA , the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, may protect the cells of the retina from oxidative damage and prevent inflammation that could lead to AMD.
Despite these results, the researchers do not recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements and fish intake for AMD prevention at this time because there are no randomized clinical trials to support their conclusions.
While adding fish to your diet certainly can't hurt - and it may help your heart - at this time it's too soon to say that eating fish wards off AMD.
According to AMD Canada, over one third of Canadians between the ages of 55 and 74 develop age-related macular degeneration.
For more information on how nutrients relate to eye health, check out Leslie Beck's January 11, 2006 column in The Globe and Mail.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.