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Omega-3s May Keep Your Eyes Sharp As you Age

Eating fish high in omega-3 essential fatty acids may keep your eyes sharp as you age, according to a study conducted by the National Eye Institute.

The study looked at the data of nearly 2,000 men and women who participated in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The results of the study were published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

At the beginning of the study, all of the participants were free of advanced age related macular degeneration (AMD) in at least one eye, but did have some degree of earlier stage disease.

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness in the Western world. It is a progressive disease that attacks the macula of the eye and affects over 15 million Americans. It causes central vision loss and leaves only peripheral vision.

Over the course of the twelve year study, 20% of the participants developed dry AMD and 32% developed wet AMD.

Dry AMD results in the disappearance of tissue at the center of the retina. Wet AMD is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the macula.

Using food frequency questionnaires, the researchers were able to estimate omega-3 essential fatty acid intake. They found that the participants with the highest intake had a 30% reduced risk of developing AMD compared to their peers.

This study supports the findings of a number of earlier studies. One such study, published in the June 2009 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, found that combining omega-3s with a supplement called the age related eye disease and nutrition (AREDS) supplement can lead to even larger reductions in AMD risk.

Beyond consuming more protective nutrients like omega-3, eating more foods with a low glycemic index has also been shown to be an effective way to reduce the risk of developing AMD.

There are also several foods sources that are known to promote good eye health including citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables and cold water fish.

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