Eating Foods like salmon packed with essential omega 3 and fish oils can help prevent blindness in old age, according to scientists. Researchers have found the key oily fish ingredients can protect against the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, known as AMD. A previous study has already found that eating fatty fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, twice a week could prevent the onset of the disease, substantially slashing the risk of both early and late stages of the condition. Regularly eating oily fish has also been found to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and keep the heart healthy.
Now scientists at the National Eye Institute in Maryland have tested a high omega 3 diet on mice and found those eating more fish oils had lower levels of AMD.
In some mice, the enriched diet even helped improve the condition.
In a report that will appear in the American Journal of Pathology next month, the scientists said: “The results provide scientific basis for omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of AMD. The results in these mice are in line with the studies of AMD risk reduction and we plan to use this model to evaluate other therapies that might delay the development of the disease.” AMD usually strikes after the age of 50. About 90 per cent of cases are untreatable and the disease affects 500,000 Britons.
Initially it causes blurred or distorted central vision but worsens over time to cause partial or total blindness. It is caused when tissue at the back of the eye, Bruch’s Membrane, becomes clogged with natural waste products which block vital nutrients from passing into the retina. This leads to the death of retinal cells and eventual blindness in one or both eyes. In “youthful” eyes, enzymes clear away this debris, but as the aging process sets in, the body’s natural waste-disposal system becomes weak and unable to deal with the workload. Some people are more at risk than others due to their age and family history, with women and smokers at the greatest risk of suffering from the condition.
Currently there is no effective treatment for “dry” AMD, a less serious form of the disease. Drugs like Avastin treat the more disabling and aggressive “wet” version but these usually do little more than stabilise the condition.
Barbara McLaughlan, campaigns manager for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said:”The fight against AMD is an international effort, and this new work in the US seems to support previous research, which has shown that eating omega 3 polyunsaturated fats as part of a balanced diet may help prevent the development of this condition. RHIB believes that looking after your eyes should be a key motivation in living a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition is very important.”
The Wonder of Omega 3
Natural Source – Omega 3 is found in oily fish like herring, salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna, making eating fish good for your heart as well as for eyesight.
How Much to Eat? – Doctors recommend that we all eat at least 2 portions of oily fish a week. Men who regularly eat oily fish have their risk of prostrate cancer reduced by two-thirds, it is claimed.
Who Else Gains? – Omega 3 reduces the risk of blood clots and helps to protect the heart as well as improving recovery chances following a heart attack.
Other Benefits – It reduces the risk of blood clots and can kill cancer cells or shrink tumours, boosting the effect of chemotherapy. In children it helps to treat hyperactivity.
Willey, J. 2009. Oily fish diet that could slash your risk of going blind. Daily Express p26. 24/07/09
Advice from the Regal Team – please click here to see our full range of Oil Rich Fish.