Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) alter vascular disease and protect the nerves of the retina. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to alter age-related macular degeneration (AMD.) Omega-3 components, DHA and EPA, are immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory. The authors investigated whether omega-3 intake could alter the risk of developing AMD.
The authors studied disease progression in 1837 patients with moderate to high risk for AMD from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS.) The risk factors for AMD were studied in relationship to the nutrients the patients consumed. Food frequency data was obtained for omega-3 intake and compared to eye examinations over 12 years. The main food sources for omega-3 were fish and sea food. The patients studied came from multiple clinics.
Physical and ophthalmic examination was done. Detailed histories were taken. Retinal photographs were taken.
The patients were classified according to their omega-3 intakes. The patients with the highest omega-3 intake were 30% less likely to develop AMD. Smokers were less likely than other patients in be in the highest 20% of omega-3 intake.
The patients were divided into quintiles (5 groups) depending on nutrient exposure other than omega-3. None of the other nutrients studied were related to the risk of developing AMD.
CONCLUSION: Patients with a high risk of developing age-related macular degeneration had a 30% reduction of risk if they consumed the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids over the 12 year period. Omega-3 alters the course of AMD. If these results are generalized to the whole population, they imply that omega-3 is a good low-cost treatment and prevention for AMD.
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