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Omega-3s' Eye-Guarding Effects Affirmed
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Evidence from rodents may explain links found between fish fats and human eye health
by Craig Weatherby

As our readers know, several large population studies have indicated that diets high in fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids may also help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

For example, last fall we reported on a population study that linked higher omega-3 intake to a whopping 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing macular degeneration (See “Omega-3s Linked to Eye Health… Again”).

In a recent press release concerning a mouse study of the effects of omega-3s on AMD, the American Journal of Pathology called frequent enjoyment of fish the “see food” diet (AJP 2009).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes retinal damage that cuts vision in the center of ‘the visual field (macula)… and is the leading cause of severe vision loss and legal blindness among the elderly.

About one in 10 of people from 66 to 74 years of age develop some level of macular degeneration, making it difficult for them to read, or even to recognize faces.

New mouse study supports findings from diet-health studies in people
A group led by Dr. Chi-Chao Chan at the National Eye Institute examined the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in mice with the rodent equivalent of AMD (Tuo J et al. 2009).

Last, week, they reported that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids slowed the progression of AMD-induced lesions in mice.

And they found that mice given omega-3s even enjoyed reversals in the size and number of AMD lesions.

They attributed these benefits to the mildly anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s.

The mice fed omega-3s had lower levels of pro-inflammatory immune-system molecules (PGE2 and LTB4), and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules (PGD2).

As the authors wrote, “…the results in these mice are in line with the epidemiological studies of AMD risk reduction by long chain omega-3 fatty acids … [and] provide the scientific basis for the application of omega-3 fatty acids… in the prevention and treatment of AMD.”

This study was supported by grants from The National Eye Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Health Assistance Foundation.

  • American Journal of Pathology (AJP). The 'see food' diet. July 23, 2009. Accessed online at
  • Tuo J, Ross RJ, Herzlich AA, Shen D, Ding X, Zhou M, Coon SL, Hussein N, Salem Jr N, Chan C-C: A high omega-3 fatty acid diet reduces retinal lesions in a murine model of macular degeneration. Am J Pathol 2009 175: 799-807.

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