Are Omega-3s good for your eyes?

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:26 May 2016 

Research from the United States has shown that regular consumption of fish, and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) they contain, may significantly reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study was conducted over a 10-year period and involved 38,000 women with no prior diagnosis of AMD. At the start of the study, researchers collected data regarding participants’ dietary habits.

Over the next 10 years, participants were followed up to track any diagnosis of AMD. The researchers found that eating fish at least once per week was linked with a 42% lower risk of AMD than consuming fish less than once per month. In addition, participants in the group consuming the highest intake of DHA, compared to the lowest, had a 38% lower risk of developing AMD. Similar results were seen with a higher intake of EPA lowering the risk of AMD by 36%, compared to those with the lowest intake.

omega-3s

This study builds on earlier research, which examined the links between AMD and the eating habits of 2,454 elderly people living in the Blue Mountains region of NSW. Results of that research showed that as little as one serving of fish per week was sufficient to reduce the risk of early AMD and related abnormalities in the pigments of the eyes, especially among those people who had low intakes of linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils).

On the other hand, a diet with relatively high proportions of omega-6 fatty acids in comparison to omega-3s was found to increase the risk of early AMD.

To increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, aim to eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring several times per week, or consider taking a fish oil or krill oil supplement. For vegetarians, flaxseed oil is the best alternative.