Indulging in baked salmon, spicy tuna, and the odd marinated swordfish could be the key to good vision now that new research has indicated fish oil may protect older people from losing their sight.
A chemical found in fish oil has shown it has the ability to boost the survival of cells critical to vision protection. The discovery could lead to new treatments for many degenerative diseases affecting the retina, including sight loss due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
A team out of the Louisiana State University has found that a component of fish oil prevents retinal cells from dying. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA, abundant in oily fish, and its derivatives are responsible for activating long-term preconditioning protection. By consuming fish oil, you’re enhancing the synthesis of docosanoids (molecules made in the brain when you are injured or become diseased). This may in turn prevent debilitating retinal degenerative diseases, such as the dry form of AMD.
Approximately half a million Canadians are estimated to be living with significant vision loss, and every year more than 50,000 Canadians will lose their sight. AMD, the deterioration or breakdown of the macula, is one of the most common causes of poor vision after age 60. The macula is a small area at the centre of the retina in the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. The disease accounts for 90% of new cases of legal blindness in Canada.
The study published in Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology describes that fish oil contains two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and omega-6 AA (arachidonic acid). The makeup of omega-3 DHA has potent anti-inflammatory effects. When the two types of fatty acids are released together, your body is encouraged to protect photoreceptors and cells found in the retina. This helps strengthen your retina, in turn making it less susceptible to disease.
Previous research has shown that omega-3 can help fight dry eye syndrome.
If you’re interested in learning what other supplements can benefit your eyes, read our blog on what vitamins you can take to protect yourself. To learn more about how your eyes work, visit one of our eye care specialists at your nearest FYidoctors location.