A study suggests that older adults who eat fatty fish at least once a week have a lower risk of losing their eyesight from age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision impairment and blindness. These findings add to the growing list of health benefits gained by eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
They also add to evidence from previous studies showing that fish eaters tend to have lower rates of age-related macular degeneration than people who infrequently eat fish.
AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth behind the retina or breakdown of light-sensitive cells within the retina itself - both of which can cause serious vision impairment. This disease is the leading cause of blindness in older adults and there is no cure for AMD, but certain treatments may prevent or delay serious vision loss.
For the current study, researchers analyzed data from 2,520 adults aged 65 to 84 who underwent eye exams and completed detailed dietary questionnaires.
Fifteen percent were found to have early- or intermediate-stage AMD, while just under 3 percent were in the advanced stage of the disease.
Overall, no clear relationship between participants' reported fish intake and the risk of AMD was found. However, there was a connection between higher intake of omega-3-rich fish and the odds of advanced AMD.
Study participants who ate one or more servings of such fish each week were 60 percent less likely to have advanced AMD than those who averaged less than a serving per week.
Previous studies have also found that eating foods rich in omega-3 fats boosts eye health. These include fish oils, cold water fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, etc), and seeds like flax, pumpkin and chia.
Research Paper Details:
Swenor BK, Bressler S, Caulfield L, West SK. The Impact of fish and shellfish Consumption on age-related macular degeneration.13 July 2010 Ophthalmology.