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Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk

High intake of fatty acid associated with reduction of both early and late AMD

FRIDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Consuming fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss in elderly people.

Australian researchers reviewed nine published studies that included a total of 88,974 participants, including 3,203 people with AMD. The combined findings from the studies suggest that a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a 38 percent reduced risk of late (advanced) AMD, and that eating fish twice a week is associated with a reduced risk of both early and late AMD.

The study was published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

The University of Melbourne researchers noted that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids form an integral part of the layer of nerve cells in the retina. Outer cells of the retina are continually shed and regenerated. Because of this, deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids may cause AMD.

"A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fish, as a proxy for long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake, has therefore been hypothesized as a means to prevent AMD," the researchers wrote.

While they did find an association between omega-3 fatty acid intake and reduced risk of AMD, they didn't go so far as to recommend regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to ward off AMD.

"Although this meta-analysis suggests that consumption of fish and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with a lower risk of AMD, there is insufficient evidence from the current literature, with few prospective studies and no randomized clinical trials, to support their routine consumption for AMD," the researchers concluded.

More information

The National Eye Institute has more about age-related macular degeneration.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 9, 2008

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