Fish Consumption May Reduce Risk of Vision Loss

Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly, according to an analysis of nine previously published studies in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

However, the studies include few clinical trials and are insufficient to support the routine consumption of fish for AMD prevention, the authors note.

Led by Elaine W.T. Chong of the University of Melbourne, Australia, the analysis comprised nine studies with 88,974 participants, including 3,203 individuals with AMD. When the results of all nine studies were combined, a high dietary intake of omega-3s was associated with a 38 percent reduction in the risk of late AMD, while eating fish twice a week was tied to a reduced risk of both early and late AMD.

"Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid in particular, form an integral part of the neural retina," the authors write, adding that the retina's outer cells are continually shed and regenerated, and deficiencies of omega-3s may therefore initiate AMD. "A diet rich in omega-3s and fish … has therefore been hypothesized as a means to prevent AMD."

"Although this meta-analysis suggests that consumption of fish and foods rich in omega-3s 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 prevention," they conclude.


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