“Ocular neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels in the eye) is the most common cause of blindness in all age groups.” Diseases with visual loss have a first stage of loss of circulation and resulting loss of oxygen to the eye and a second stage of growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) resulting from the loss of oxygen. Loss of vision is more the result of new blood vessel overgrowth rather than of hypoxia at any age. These diseases include retinopathy of prematurity, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Blood vessel loss in the above eye diseases and the resulting angiogenesis can be altered by EPA, DHA and arachidonic acid. The present study was of the effects of dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on a mouse model of hypoxic retinopathy.
In this study, the mice were given 75% oxygen to induce the hypoxic retinopathy. Omega-3 was shown to reduce the areas of hypoxia and reduce neovascularization, thereby. Omega-3 was more protective from neovascularization than was omega-6. A lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio was protective from angiogenesis. The Western diet is frequently deficient in omega-3.
Omega-3 is transferred from the mother to the fetus, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy. Premature birth prevents the transfer of omega-3 to the fetus. Omega-3 fatty acids reach the newborn by way of the mother’s milk.
CONCLUSION: Increased use of dietary omega-3 reduces pathologic growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in various eye diseases. A lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio is protective from angiogenesis. Supplementing with omega-3 may help prevent the loss of vision in retinopathies such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity and age-related macular degeneration.
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