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Treatment Options For Retinitis Pigmentosa Questioned

Retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease targeting the light-collecting cells of the retina, affects one in 4,000 people worldwide and can cause // vision loss. Researchers say for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, the addition of docosahexaenoic acid to vitamin A therapy may not provide long-term benefits, according to a recent study.

Researchers followed 221 patients, ranging in age from 18 to 55 years, over four years. All were given 15,000 international units of vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate) along with a placebo or 1,200 milligrams of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. But there was no significant difference seen in the progression of the eye disease between those taking vitamin A plus a control and those taking vitamin A plus DHA over four years.

In a separate analysis of the same study, researchers investigated the effect of DHA on patients not already taking vitamin A prior to the study. It was found that patients not taking vitamin A before the study who were part of the vitamin-A-plus-DHA group had a slower decline in vision loss than those in the control group. These effects lasted over the first two years but not into years three and four of follow-up.

Researchers conclude saying that for patients with retinitis pigmentosa beginning vitamin A therapy, addition of DHA, 1,200 milligrams per day, slowed the course of the disease for two years.

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