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Eye health

"See Food" Diet May Prevent Age-Related Blindness

Monday, August 17, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: eye health, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an often devastating disorder associated with growing older that gradually destroys a person's ability to see the center of the visual field) due to retinal damage. The resulting vision loss can rob elders of the ability to read, drive or recognize the faces of loved ones. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), about 10 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 develop some degree of AMD and the risk of macular degeneration soars to nearly 30 percent for those 75 and older. A leading cause of blindness in the US, AMD affects more than 1.75 million Americans. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns that as the population ages, almost three million people in the US could suffer from AMD by 2020.

But just because the vision-destroying problem is age-related does not mean it has to be inevitable for large numbers of people as they age. Scientists have previously discovered that specific nutrients and healthy living strategies (including regular exercise and not smoking) may slow down the progression of macular degeneration. Now new research just published in the American Journal of Pathology indicates a "see food" diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids found abundantly in cold water fish like salmon may actually prevent AMD and the blindness it causes.

The NEI's Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which ended in 2005, already established that non-drug and non-surgical approaches -- specifically, sufficiently high levels of antioxidants and zinc -- can greatly reduce the risk of advanced AMD and the vision loss associated with macular degeneration. Because evidence has been building that omega-3 fatty acids protect against a variety of diseases, including atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, NEI scientists decided to study what impact these "good" fats found in fish and flaxseed oil might have on the eyes.

NEI scientist Dr. Chi-Chao Chan and colleagues examined the direct effect of omega-3 fatty acids on mice bred to exhibit symptoms of AMD. Feeding the rodents a diet containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in a dramatic slowing of lesion progression. In fact, some of the eye lesions began to heal and showed measurable improvement. The scientists also found the mice placed on the "see food" diet had lower levels of inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules. That's important because inflammation is believed to play a role in a host of diseases ranging from cancer and heart disease to AMD.

The authors of the study wrote that "a diet enriched in EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) can ameliorate the progression of retinal lesions" in their mouse model of AMD and that the results "further provide the scientific basis for the application of omega-3 fatty acids and their biologically active derivatives in the prevention and treatment of AMD."

As NaturalNews has reported previously (https://www.naturalnews.com/020697_vegetables...), research has also shown there are other ways to naturally help the eyes. Pigments in corn, squash and other vegetables may prevent AMD and the carotenoid lutein (https://www.naturalnews.com/010203_lutein_can...) found in many vegetables including carrots, kale, tomatoes, and parsley, may prevent macular degeneration as well as cataracts.

Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

Reference:Tuo J, Ross RJ, Herzlich AA, Shen D, Ding X, Zhou M, Coon SL, Hussein N, Salem Jr N, Chan C-C: "A high omega-3 fatty acid diet reduces retinal lesions in a murine model of macular degeneration". American Journal of Pathology 2009 175: 799-807.

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