Research Supports Omegas for Eye Protection

September 16, 2010

Omega-3s are looking good for healthy eye function, thanks to a new study in the Journal of Lipid Research. Researchers at the University of Utah investigated the relationships between ocular levels of very long chain fatty acids and long chain fatty acids, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Using human donor eyes and gas chromatography and mass spectrometry methods to detect fatty acid presence, the researchers made several key findings related to omega-3s.

Omega-3s are looking good for healthy eye function, thanks to a new study in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Researchers at the University of Utah investigated the relationships between ocular levels of very long chain fatty acids and long chain fatty acids, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Using human donor eyes and gas chromatography and mass spectrometry methods to detect fatty acid presence, the researchers made several key findings related to omega-3s.

Donor eyes were dissected within 26 hours of death and categorized into four groups: young, middle-aged, old, and age-matched AMD.

Concerning docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 commonly marketed in algal and fish oils, the researchers found that DHA and adrenic acid (AA; an omega-6) levels in retinal tissues significantly decreased in AMD eyes compared to old, non-AMD eyes. Furthermore, AA/DHA and omega-6/omega-3 ratios significantly increased in the AMD group compared to the old group. In the middle-aged group, ratios were detected as significantly lower.

The researchers also reported that 'Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the major components of fish oil, accounted for less than 0.29% of retinal lipids.'

'Our results support the potential value of interventions to increase retinal [very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] and to decrease n-6/n-3 ratios in the prevention and treatment of AMD,' concluded the researchers.

An abstract and the full study can be read here.