Prevent retinopathy with Omega-3
fatty acids found in fish, prevented the retinopathy, a form of blindness. Recently, the same team of scientists at Children’s Hospital Boston completed a follow-up study and discovered how omega-3 protects against blindness.
“The retinopathy is caused by degeneration of blood vessels in the eye followed later by a destructive pathological proliferation of abnormal vessels leak that can cause retinal detachment and blindness,” explains Dr. Lois Smith, principal investigator and the ophthalmologist of children, AOL Health.
Diabetes is a major cause of retinopathy, but the condition can be caused by high blood pressure. In addition to protecting against retinopathy, the study found that omega-3 fatty acids may also prevent blindness in premature babies and in people with macular degeneration.
“These diseases are the leading causes of blindness in all age groups and represent a considerable number of cases of vision loss in the U.S. and the world,” says Smith. “The
fatty acids cause the normal vessels to grow better and inhibit the proliferation of abnormal vessels.”
According to Smith, the omega-3 fatty acids increase the durability of the blood vessels through the production of a “breakdown product” called 4HDHA, which is the result of an enzyme called 5LOX. Retinopathy is caused by blood vessel changes that interfere with oxygen delivery to cells in the retina. The nerve cells in the retina send signals of what the eye sees along the optic nerve to the brain. long-term damage to the retina, such as that caused by lack of oxygen can lead to blindness.
The results of the study, published in the February 09 issue of Science Translational Medicine, could provide a massive reduction in the cost of treatment of conditions that cause blindness.
“The cost of treatment for macular degeneration related to age with both eyes in question is up to $ 4,000 per month per patient,” says Smith. “The cost of taking
fatty acids is approximately $ 10 per month and has other beneficial health effects.”
Smith and his team hope their discovery may help prevent eye disease in patients with diabetes as well. Clinical studies must be completed to confirm the findings in relation to diabetes. Currently, a clinical trial is testing the results in patients with macular degeneration related to age.
“It is likely that many people in the world have an inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids and would benefit from taking a supplement or eat more fish,” added Smith. “We have to do clinical trials to determine the appropriate dose for patients, but is likely to be in the range predicted by the counter supplements.”