Omega 3 Vitamin A Slows The Progression Of Devastating Eye Disease

Omega 3, vitamin A slow the progression of devastating eye disease

Omega 3, vitamin A slow the progression of devastating eye disease

Friday, February 17, 2012. An article published online on February 13, 2012 in the American Medical Association journal Archives of Ophthalmology describes the discovery of Harvard researchers of a benefit for omega-3 fatty acids in combination with vitamin A for individuals with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that begins with night blindness in adolescence and progresses to side vision loss, tunnel vision and eventual blindness in some men and women. The condition is estimated to affect approximately two million people worldwide.

For the current study, Eliot L. Berson, MD, of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and his associates analyzed data from 357 adults with retinitis pigmentosa who participated in one of three randomized clinical trials that were conducted from 1984 to 1991, 1996 to 2001 and 2003 to 2008. All subjects were receiving 15,000 international units vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate for four to six years. Dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment and at yearly follow-up visits were analyzed for the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Among those whose intake of omega-3 fatty acids was classified as high at least 200 milligrams per day, a 40 percent reduction in the average yearly rate of decline of distance visual acuity was observed in comparison with those who consumed lower levels. A similar reduction was observed for retinal acuity.

"Since vitamin A plus an omega-3–rich diet slowed the rate of decline of distance and retinal acuity by about the same extent, we conclude that the benefit of this combination was due to an effect on preserving central retinal function," the authors write.

"The treatment regimen of vitamin A combined with an omega-3-rich diet should make it possible for many patients with typical retinitis pigmentosa to retain both visual acuity and central visual field for most of their lives," they conclude.

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Trial will evaluate omega 3 fatty acids for the prevention of mental illness in teenagers

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A double-blinded, randomized trial funded by the National Institute of Mental Health will examine the effect of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil in young adults aged 12 to 25 who are at risk for severe psychiatric disorders. Omega-3 fatty acids, which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are necessary for normal brain function, and have been recently studied as possible therapies for psychiatric disorders in addition to being widely recognized as helpful in depression, arrhythmias and other conditions.

The trial will be administered by researchers at Zucker Hillside Hospital's Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program in Glen Oaks, New York. The RAP Program is a clinic and a research facility that works with adolescents and young adults to help prevent and treat psychiatric illnesses. The current study will compare the effects of six months of fish oil or a placebo on the subjects' clinical symptoms and school, work and social function. Participants will be monitored monthly at eight clinical sites.

"Of the 300 adolescents who have participated in the RAP Program, most have shown substantial improvement," stated Barbara Cornblatt, PhD, who is the director of the RAP Program and investigator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, headquartered in Manhasset, New York. "If this study continues to show success, omega 3 could offer a natural alternative to the range of medications and therapies now offered to RAP participants. Ultimately, the goal of the RAP Program is to intervene and prevent illness before symptoms get worse."

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