A diet rich in oily fish could hold the key to preventing blindness among thousands of the elderly, research has found.
The omega-3 group of fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna, are associated with helping to protect against the most common form of sight loss among older people, research suggests. High concentrations of omega-3s have been found in the eye's retina, and evidence is mounting that the nutrient may be essential to eye health.
Scientists studying the diets of adults over the age of 65 found those who regularly ate seafood were far less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, which is caused by the death of cells in the retina.
It gradually causes sufferers to lose their 'central vision', meaning they can no longer see what is directly in front of them, making activities such as reading, writing and driving almost impossible.
In the study, American scientists surveyed 2,400 volunteers aged 65 to 84. Those who ate oily fish or shellfish - particularly crab, oysters or mussels - twice a week or more often were far less likely to have AMD, the results revealed.
It is thought that the omega-3s may help protect cells in the retina from damage caused by sunlight, which occurs gradually with age.
The research also backs up earlier studies which showed omega-3s help slow the progression of advanced AMD.
The lead researcher said: "While participants in all groups, including controls, averaged at least one serving of fish or shellfish per week, those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood."
Omega-3 fatty acids have long been known to play an important role in maintaining a healthy brain and body, and more benefits are constantly emerging about these super-healthy fats, and reasons to include them in your diet.
Research Paper Details:
Bonnielin K. Swenor, Susan Bressler, Laura Caulfield, Sheila K. West. The Impact of fish and shellfish Consumption on age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology, 2010.