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OMEGA-3's Linked to Lower Retinopathy Risk in Diabetics

Middle-aged and older individuals with type 2 diabetes may be able to reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by increasing their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, suggests a recent study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. It is the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness among working age adults.

Researchers at the Lipid Clinic, Barcelona, Spain, found that subjects who achieved a recommended dietary level of omega-3 intake (500 mg/daily) showed an adjusted, 48 percent reduced risk of retinopathy compared with those whose intake was less. The added intake, they pointed out, is easily achievable with two weekly servings of oily fish.

Good marine sources of omega-3s include lake trout, anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, and tuna. Flaxseed oil is rich in ALA, a plant-based omega-3.

Omega-3s are known as essential fatty acids, meaning that the body needs them to function. Research indicates that added intake of omega-3s may offer many health benefits, including lowered risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Growing scientific evidence also suggests that intake of omega-3s (in the diet or in supplements) can play a significant role in promoting healthy eyes.

For example, omega-3s are associated with reduced risk of advanced macular degeneration. They have also been found to be helpful in common dry eye conditions by reducing inflammation, and improving the quality of eye lubrication. In pregnancy and for infants, omega-3s are thought to be important in normal eye and brain development as well.

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