Women Reduce Risk
of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Fish, Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Women who ate the
most fish did the best at reducing the risk of this leading cause of
blindness in senior citizens
15, 2011 The regular consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids found
in fish is associated with a significantly reduced risk for women of
developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision
loss in senior citizens. The fish eaters consuming mostly tuna
lowered their risk the most (42%).
estimated nine million U.S. adults aged 40 years and older show signs of
age-related macular degeneration (AMD)," according to a report posted
online March 14 that will appear in the June issue of Archives of
Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
additional 7.3 million persons have early age-related macular
degeneration, which is usually associated with moderate or no vision
loss but does increase the risk of progression to advanced age-related
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A number of studies have now linked Omega-3 with reducing the risk of
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a
leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease
that destroys the sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see
objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving, according
to the National Eye Institute.
AMD destroys central vision, which is used for critical tasks such as
reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that
allows you to see fine detail. It does not hurt, but it causes cells in
the macula to die, the NEI says.
some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in
their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a
loss of vision in both eyes. Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect
macular degeneration before the disease causes vision loss. Treatment
can slow vision loss. It does not restore vision.
Using the Women's Health Study, William G. Christen, Sc.D., of Brigham
and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues
collected data on 38,022 women who had not been diagnosed with
age-related macular degeneration.
Information on women's eating habits was obtained via questionnaire at
the beginning of the study and included information on intake of
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - Omega-3
fatty acids found in fish - and arachidonic acid and linoleic acid
(omega-6 fatty acids).
The test results
During ten years of follow-up, additional questionnaires tracked the
women's eye health, with specific focus on diagnosis of age-related
Over the course of follow-up, 235 cases of age-related macular
degeneration were reported.
analyses that adjusted for age and treatment assignment, women who
consumed the most DHA compared with women who consumed the lowest amount
had a 38 percent lower risk of developing age-related macular
Similar results were observed for higher intake of EPA and for higher
consumption of both types of acid together.
Results for fish intake showed that consumption of one or more servings
of fish per week, when compared to less than one per month, was
associated with a 42 percent lower risk of age-related macular
"This lower risk appeared to be due primarily to consumption of canned
tuna fish and dark-meat fish."
omega-6 fatty acids, higher intake of linoleic acid but not arachidonic
acid was associated with an increased risk of age-related macular
degeneration, however this association was non-significant after
adjustment for other risk factors and fats.
summary, these prospective data from a large population of women with no
prior diagnosis of AMD indicate that regular consumption of DHA and EPA
and fish significantly reduced the risk of incident AMD," the authors
This study was supported by research grants from the National Institutes
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