Retinopathies may be prevented or lessened by a change in diet. Omega-3 fatty acids protect against the development and progression of retinopathy, a deterioration of the retina, in mice. This is the major finding of a study that appears in the July 2007 issue of the journal Nature Medicine. The study was a collaborative effort by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Goteborg in Sweden, and the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers found that increasing omega-3 fatty acids, and decreasing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet, reduced the area of vessel loss that ultimately causes the growth of the abnormal blood vessels and blindness. Omega-6 fatty acids contribute to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina.
“Our finding represent new evidence suggesting the possiblility that omega-3 fatty acids act as protective factors in diseases that affect retinal blood vessels”, said John Paul SanGiovani, ScD, NEI staff scientist, and the other lead author of the study.