Further positive effects of Omega-3 and retinal health have surfaced in a recent Canadian study. Researchers at University of Alberta, Dept. of Ophthalmology discovered that supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids are effectual both in preservation of good retina health and aid in prevention of loss of retinal performance as we get older.
The study suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids provide protection against a specific toxin that is linked with normal retina loss of function as we age. Results of this study offer a new hope for the elderly, where the only previous options were vision loss and potential blindness.
How Retinal Vision Loss Occurs
Your retina is a translucent lining that covers the back of your eyeball. Cells in the retina, or photoreceptors, transfer signals to the optic nerve. Proteins rooted in retinal cells alter shapes when they are subjected to light. Signals are processed that help us focus in 3-dimensions and spectacular living color.
It's easy to see that retina health is crucial to prevent against vision loss. For example, the deterioration of the macula lutea, which is inside the retina, is the leading cause of blindness in people who are age 50 and older. The macula is the part of the eye, which distinguishes fine details.
Retinitis pigmentosa occurs when rods and/or cone cells that control low-light vision are affected. In addition to loss of night vision, peripheral and central vision can be affected, resulting in total vision loss.
Stargardt Macular Dystrophy, determined to be a genetic eye disease, begins in childhood with spots in the center field of vision. Once central vision loss reaches 10/200, the person is declared legally blind. Heretofore, there has been no cure for Stragardt.
Eye problems such as these severely impact quality of life. By supplementing with fish oil for eye health, a viable potential exists for prevention or curtailment of these and other debilitating conditions that lead to vision loss.
Stargardt Mascular Dystrophy and DHA
The Canadian study researched the consequences of A2E accumulation in retinal cells and how they relate to decline of proper function of our retina. (A2E is a component of lipofuscin, a toxin.) The aim was to determine the relationship of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, which is essential in our cell membranes, to aging loss of vision. From there they focused on potential health benefits of omega-3 supplements, by reproducing Stargardt disease in mice.
Wild mice were tested in the various stages of the disease. By supplementing with DHA, the retina health was sustained and decreased vision was prevented throughout all stages of Stargardt. DHA supplementation was proven to:
- Uphold integrity of inner and outer retina.
- Prevent decreases in visual performance.
- Conserve rod/cone cells in retina, in charge of color vision.
- Improve low-light vision.
- Reduce AE2 levels in the aged.
Due to optimistic findings after monitoring the wild mice subjects, a current study is in progress to determine potential therapeutic functions of DHA on age-related, retinal vision loss and/or pathological diseases of the eye.
The National Eye Institute Stance on Omega-3 and Eye Health
The National Eye Institute has long been an advocate of omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of supplements or by including fatty fish in our diet. They have also funded numerous studies, which promote health, affordable cost and safety of fish oil as natural therapeutics of eye health.
One applicable study was published in Science Translational Medicine, a medical journal, in February of 2011. Research conducted at Harvard Medical School, Boston demonstrated that the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may also contribute to eye health.
Again, the initial research in 2007 was based with mice as subjects. Resulting from the team's positive findings, the National Eye Institute funded a study of five years duration, which concentrates on age-related diseases of the eye, potentially occurring in 4,000 participants. The participants receive:
- Carontenoids - zeaxanthin and lutein
According to recent statistics, about nine million Americans have age related macular degeneration. Further, in the advanced mode, around 1.75 million have suffered substantial vision loss.
Since mainstream medical treatments consist of costly, invasive procedures, the researchers believe Omega-3 fatty acids would provide a non-invasive alternative, which is cheaper, safer and easy to use.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and a Healthy Retina
Sustaining a healthy retina is vital for optimal vision. Ongoing scientific studies continue to validate the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids, in order to assuage eye problems in general and retina problems in particular.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an Omega-3 fatty acid, comprises about 30% of our retinas. So that, scientific studies aside, it seems prudent to take fish oil supplements as part of our natural defense against vision loss.
As we age in years, we are subject to loss of central vision and retinal degeneration. Again and again, researcher's findings have concluded that DHA protects the eye against aging and its anti-inflammatory action helps to stave off degenerative diseases of the eye.
Importance of Quality Fish Oil Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids are not manufactured by the physical body. Experts recommend supplementing with a quality fish oil product. While we may be tempted to pay the lowest possible price, it's important to choose a name brand fish oil supplement to ensure our fish oil is toxin-free.
Be mindful, that you are making an investment in total-body health and protecting your lifetime vision. Can you really put a price on that?
- Dornstauder B, Suh M, Kuny S, Gaillard F, Macdonald IM, Clandinin MT, Sauve Y. Dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation prevents age-related functional losses and A2E accumulation in the retina.Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print]