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Second Study in Two Months Shows Omega-3s Support Healthy Eyes

According to a new study from researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, eating one portion of omega-3 rich fish per week could reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD) by 50%.

AMD is a degenerative disease in the eye that affects the macula which allows humans to see fine details. It is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 55. In fact, an estimated 25-30 million people worldwide suffer from the disease.

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. Dry AMD occurs when light sensitive cells in the eye start to break down and eventually lead to blurred vision. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow underneath the macula, which is located at the rear of the eye.

For their recent study, researchers recruited 105 people with wet AMD (average age 65) and 2,170 healthy controls. Participants were asked to fill out a food-frequency questionnaire which the researchers used to identify fish intake.

The results are published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and found that eating one portion of omega-3 rich fish per week resulted in a 50% reduction in risk of developing wet AMD.  An intake of at least 300mg per day of omega-3s EPA and DHA (from fish) resulted in about a 70% reduction.

The study is the second in as many months that shows omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish may provide protection against AMD. In June 2008 a team of Australian researchers performed a meta-analysis that linked omega-3s to healthy eyes.

Their analysis included nine studies and 88,974 participants. They found that the omega-3 EPA was associated with a 23% reduction in risk of early AMD while DHA was associated with a 30% reduction. Overall, researchers from the study reported that two servings of fish per week resulted in a 24% to 33% reduction in risk of early or late AMD.

These recent studies provide a strong foundation to support the idea that omega-3 fatty acids from fish play an important role in eye health. But, more importantly, they provide hope for the millions of people worldwide looking for protection against the blinding disease.
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