Omega-3-fatty acids may slow macular disease

NEW YORK Tue Jun 9, 2009 4:04pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diets rich in omega-3-fatty acids may slow the progression of early age-related macular degeneration to advanced disease, according to a report in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disorder that affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, and is primarily seen in patients older than 60 years.

The findings are based on an analysis of data from 2924 subjects who were enrolled in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and were randomly assigned to receive one of four dietary supplement groups: placebo, antioxidants, zinc, or antioxidants plus zinc.

As part of AREDS, the subjects completed food frequency questionnaires at the beginning of the study and underwent periodic general and ophthalmologic physical examinations, Dr. C-J. Chiu, from Tufts University, Boston, and co-researchers explain.

The authors found that regardless of which supplement was given, higher quantities of omega fatty acids lowered the risk of progression to advanced macular degeneration. In addition, a lower dietary glycemic index correlated with a 24 percent reduced risk of progression.

"The present study adds additional support to the idea that diet and, if necessary, supplementation can be optimized for the prevention of acute macular degeneration," the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: British Journal of Ophthalmology, June 9, 2009.

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