Omega-3 fatty acids protect eyes against retinopathy, study finds

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Public release date: 24-Jun-2007

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids protect against the development and progression of retinopathy, a deterioration of the retina, in mice. This is the major finding of a study that appears in the July 2007 issue of the journal Nature Medicine. The study was a collaborative effort by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Goteborg in Sweden, and the National Eye Institute (NEI) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The researchers found that increasing omega-3 fatty acids and decreasing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet reduced the area of vessel loss that ultimately causes the growth of the abnormal vessels and blindness. Omega-6 fatty acid contributes to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina

To further test the apparent beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids, the researchers studied mice fed a diet modeled after a traditional Japanese diet (more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids) and mice fed a diet modeled after a traditional Western diet (lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids). In addition, they studied mice genetically altered with a gene which mammals normally lack that converts omega-6 into omega-3 fatty acids. They found that the mice with higher amounts of omega-3 had a nearly 50 percent decrease in retinopathy.

 

 

The retina has one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the body,” said lead author and NEI fellowship recipient Kip M. Connor, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston. “Given this, it is remarkable that with only a two percent change in dietary omega-3 intake, we observed an approximate 40-50 percent decrease in retinopathy severity.”



Categories: Missed - Medical Breakthroughs

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