Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Eyes Against Retinopathy, Study Finds
A study shows that retinopathy — or deterioration of the retina — may be prevented or lessened by a change in the diet.
Schmalfeldt: A study shows that retinopathy — or deterioration of the retina — may be prevented or lessened by a change in the diet. The study — a collaborative effort by researchers at the National Eye Institute and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the NIH, along with Children's Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Goteborg in Sweden, demonstrated that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids protected against the development of retinopathy in mice.
SanGiovanni: What we found was that there is obviously an influence on these inflammatory processes — things that would lead to inflammation in the eye — and the omega-3 fatty acid-fed animals actually had a lower intensity of inflammation within the retina to the point that it actually helped new vessels — damaged vessels or missing vessels — grow back within the retina.
Schmalfeldt: That was Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni, an NEI staff scientist and one of the lead authors of the study, which looked at the effect of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA — derived from fish. Although this study provides new evidence suggesting the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids act as protective factors in diseases that affect blood vessels in the retina, Dr. SanGiovanni said more research is needed.
SanGiovanni: We have a 4,000-person trial that's currently underway. It's known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study -2. And in that study we're actually giving people omega-3 fatty acids and will follow them for five years.
Schmalfeldt: The clinical trial will, in part, assess the affect of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA on the progression of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older. An upcoming clinical trial at Children's Hospital Boston will test the effects of omega-3 supplements in premature infants. For more information on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study-2, log on to www.clinicaltrials.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni
Topic: Retinopathy, Clinical Trials