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Diets rich in Omega-3 help reduce eye disease risk

12-02-2010 11:20 BJT

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Seniors who often eat diets rich in Omega-3 are less likely to develop a serious eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), U.S. researchers have found.

The findings were based on a fresh analysis of a one-year dietary survey conducted in the early 1990s, said researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The study involved nearly 2,400 seniors between the ages of 65 and 84 living in Maryland's Eastern Shore region, where fish and shellfish are eaten routinely.

After their food intake was assessed, participants underwent eye exams. About 450 had AMD, including 68 who had an advanced stage of the disease, which can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness.

The results showed that participants who often ate omega-3-rich fish and shellfish had a lower rate of AMD.

"Our study corroborates earlier findings that eating omega-3- rich fish and shellfish may protect against advanced AMD," said study lead author Sheila K. West, of the Wilmer Eye Institute at the school.

"While participants in all groups, including controls, averaged at least one serving of fish or shellfish per week, those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega- 3 fish and seafood," she said in a news release from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

The researchers reported their findings in the December issue of Ophthalmology.

"It does make huge sense theoretically," commented Anand Swaroop, chief of the neurobiology, neuro-degeneration, and repair laboratory at the U.S. National Eye Institute.

"Photoreceptors have a very high concentration of a specific type of fatty acids and lipids, relative to many other cell types. So it would make sense that omega-3 consumption would be beneficial. The theory is sound."

But Swaroop said that although the correlation is important, it should be explored further. "We need larger studies with longer term follow-up before being able to properly assess the impact," he said.

In the United States, AMD is the major cause of blindness in whites, according to the AAO.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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