UPDATE Macular Degeneration



Omega Fatty Acids:  Essential Nutrients for Retinal Health

By Dr. Julie Poteet, OD 


Omega fatty acids, commonly known as omega-3 and omega-6, are types of fat that our bodies cannot produce on their own. These essential fats must be obtained through our diet, playing critical roles in maintaining overall health, particularly in the functioning and well-being of our eyes. The retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye, relies heavily on these fatty acids to maintain its structure and function. This is especially true in the context of preventing and managing conditions like macular degeneration.

Understanding Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, a type of fat that is liquid at room temperature. Among the various types of omega fatty acids, omega-3s are the most crucial for retinal health. The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): Found in plant oils, such as flaxseed and walnut oils.
  2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in fish and other seafood.
  3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also found in fish and seafood, DHA is abundant in the retina and brain.

Omega-6 fatty acids, while also essential, are typically consumed in excessive amounts in the standard American diet, primarily through vegetable oils and processed foods.


Overconsumption of these has been associated with an increased risk of inflammation in the body and greater risk of chronic diseases.

Why Omega-3s are Crucial for the Retina

The retina is extraordinarily rich in DHA. In fact, the retina is one of the most DHA-rich tissues in the body. DHA forms an integral part of the photoreceptor cells. These cells are responsible for converting light into electrical signals, which our brain interprets as vision. DHA helps maintain the fluidity of cell membranes, enhances photoreceptor cell function, and supports the survival of cells within the retina. The high concentration of DHA in the retina underscores its importance; without sufficient DHA, the structural integrity and function of the retina can be compromised.

Omega-3s and Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision needed for activities like reading and driving. The macula’s health is pivotal for maintaining good vision, and omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in its upkeep.


Research suggests several mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: Chronic inflammation is a known factor in the development and progression of AMD. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, have potent anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce the inflammatory response in the retina.
  2. Protection against oxidative stress: The retina is highly susceptible to oxidative stress due to its high consumption of oxygen and exposure to intense light. Omega-3 fatty acids can enhance the retina’s ability to combat oxidative stress, potentially reducing the damage that can lead to AMD.
  3. Neuroprotective effects: Omega-3 fatty acids can also provide neuroprotective benefits, helping to preserve retinal function and prevent the death of cells in the macula.


Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

To gain the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, incorporating rich sources into your diet is essential. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are excellent sources of EPA and DHA. For vegetarians or those who do not consume fish, options like algae-based supplements or flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts (which contain ALA that the body partially converts to EPA and DHA) are available.

Practical Advice for Eye Health

For individuals at risk of macular degeneration or who wish to maintain healthy vision, consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is advisable. Aim for at least two servings of fatty fish per week, complemented by nuts and seeds that provide ALA. For those who may need higher amounts, such as individuals with existing eye conditions, omega-3 supplements can be considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


In summary, omega fatty acids are not just another nutrient; they are foundational components of our retinal health. Their roles in reducing inflammation, protecting against oxidative stress, and supporting cellular functions are critical, particularly in the prevention and management of macular degeneration. As we continue to explore the relationship between diet and eye health, the importance of these fatty acids becomes ever clearer, offering us practical ways to protect our vision well into our later years. For anyone interested in maintaining healthy eyes, omega-3 fatty acids should be a regular part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

Side Note:

Data from the National Eye Institute’s 10-year, post hoc analysis of the AREDS and AREDS2 trials supports the benefits of increasing omega-3 in the diet. The analysis showed that a diet high in fatty fish (2 servings per week) can reduce the chances of developing late AMD by 65% in patients who also have protective genes. In the general AMD population, a high fish diet reduced progression of intermediated AMD, with bilateral large drusen, to geographic atrophy by 31%.1



1 Argon E, Mares J, Swarovski A, Chew, E, Keenan D et al. Dietary nutrient intake and progression to late age- related macular degeneration in the age-related eye disease studies 1 and 2. Clinical Trial. Ophthalmology. 2021 Mar;128(3):425-442.



Salmon Fillets

Use fresh or frozen fillets that are vacuum sealed.

Dredge salmon fillets in flour mixed with herbs such as Italian seasoning, dill, etc

Pan sear each side in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes per side

Top with capers and butter and cook in a 400 degree oven for 3 minutes

Serve with a rainbow of produce and olive oil for a perfect meal.





Omega Fatty Acids: Essential Nutrients for Retinal Health.Pages 1-3

The Value of Our Educational Programs.Page 4

Matters of Vision! 2024.Page 5

Newly Approved by the FDA Scanly Home OCT Monitor.Page 6

MDA Announcement of Two New Medical Doctors.Page 7

Preserve & Protect Your Vision–Donate Today.Page 8



The Value of Our Educational Programs

In my usual updates, I typically delve into the latest medical developments. This time I want to share the value of our educational programs.

Just this past weekend we hosted an in-person program in Texas. It was a great success. Not only did we host participants eager to learn, but also a state agency that supports people with vision related issues joined us.

Often times we have other guests, like pharmaceutical or other relevant eye care companies that share information with our attendees.

Naturally, at our programs, we prioritize education on macular degeneration. Our presenting doctors are well versed in AMD and how it is diagnosed and treated. Furthermore, they are ready to answer any AMD related questions.

But we don’t only talk about AMD. We also allocate time to discuss diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. We know there is cross-over where people live with both conditions. Like AMD, the world of diabetes and its care is ever changing.

New this year, we have introduced a segment on dry eye disease. Again, we know that many people suffer with dry eyes, and we strive to educate and offer tips on this condition as well.

We firmly believe in the value of our programs, and encourage you to attend if we have one in your locality. Or, if you know somebody where we will be presenting, to encourage them to attend.

If you don’t live somewhere where we offer an in-person program, please visit our website for a schedule of our upcoming virtual programs.

We continually cover a wide range of eye care topics and even extend to subjects such as fall prevention.

We are here to educate and empower and through our diverse programming formats, we endeavor to cater to all interests and needs.

For details on all of our upcoming programs please visit MacularHope.org/Programs/


Jeffry D. Gerson, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Medical Director

Lawrence Hoffheimer, Chairman of the Board for the Macular Degeneration Association is proud to announce:

MATTERS OF VISION! 2024 In-Person Program Series

Learn about the latest developments, treatments & research for macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and low vision.

June 22nd Schaumburg, IL – Chicago Marriott Schaumburg – 50 N. Martingale Rd – 8:30 am Registration & Breakfast. Concludes at 11:10 am. Registration required.

June 22nd Milwaukee, WI – Hilton Garden Inn – 5890 South Howell Ave – 1:30 pm Registration & Lunch. Concludes at 4:00 pm. Registration required.

July 13th Columbus, OH – Doubletree Columbus Worthington – 175 Hutchinson Ave 8:30 am Registration & Breakfast. Concludes at 12:00 pm. Registration required.

August 3rd Tucson, AZ – Doubletree Tucson Reid Park – 445 S Alvernon Way – 8:30 am Registration & Breakfast. Concludes at 11:10 am. Registration required.

August 3rd Phoenix, AZ – Doubletree Phoenix Resort at the Peak – 7677 North 16th St 1:30 pm Registration & Lunch. Concludes at 4:00 pm. Registration required.

Please visit our website MacularHope.org/programs/

for additional in-person & virtual programs.


Registration required for all programs. (Conference dates and locations subject to change.)

To register for in-person programs please call (855)962-2852.

Please visit our website to register for virtual programs.

We look forward to welcoming you.


Newly Approved by the FDA

Scanly Home OCT Monitor


FDA Grants AI-Powered Notal Vision Home OCT “SCANLY” De Novo Marketing Authorization First-ever home retinal imaging service to monitor wet AMD, the leading cause of blindness for older patients. A comprehensive remote patient monitoring service that leverages innovative home-based OCT technology and AI to make reviewing patient data easy and intuitive.

The patient’s self-operated SCANLY Home OCT device captures spectral-domain OCT images in a 10 by 10-degree area centered on the point of fixation. A scan typically takes less than one minute per eye to perform.1 Images are automatically transmitted via a built-in wireless connection to the Notal Health Cloud for analysis.

The proprietary, AI (artificial intelligence)- based Notal OCT Analyzer (NOA) segments and estimates the volume of hypo-reflective spaces (HRS)—important biomarkers in managing neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD)—on OCT images. Physicians can review data, set eye-specific notification criteria, including volume thresholds, and receive notifications through a HIPAA-compliant web portal.

The SCANLY Home OCT Monitoring Program is provided by the Notal Vision Monitoring Center, a pioneer in ophthalmic digital healthcare with more than 10 years of remote patient monitoring experience.

For more information, please go to https://notalvision.com/services/scanly-oct


MDA Announcement of Two New Medical Doctors

The Macular Degeneration Association is proud to announce the addition of Sean P. Mulqueeny, OD and Julia Poteet, OD, MS, CNS, FOWNS to our esteemed medical board.

Dr. Mulqueeny specializes in dry eye disease and is active in clinical research involving dry eye syndrome.

Dr. Poteet’s focus lies in nutrition and its impact on vision health.

Sean P. Mulqueeny, OD

Dr. Sean P. Mulqueeny is a proud native of Saint Louis, MO. He earned two academic degrees with honors from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and has practiced optometry in the Saint Louis region since 1991. He has served as externship preceptor and associate clinical professor for UMSL Optometry since 1993. He is also assistant clinical professor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University.

He is a noted speaker and has traveled the world teaching and lecturing on many areas; including vision correction procedures such as LASIK, PRK & premium cataract surgery management and the treatment of various ocular diseases, macular degeneration, glaucoma and dry eye syndrome. A specialist in the management of corneal disease and the co-management of refractive and cataract surgeries, Dr. Mulqueeny has won many prestigious awards, including the Award for Clinical Excellence in the Area of Ocular Disease and the Vision Service Plan Scholarship for Clinical Excellence.

Dr. Mulqueeny served on the board of directors for the Heart of America Eye Care Congress from 2014 through 2021 and served as president in 2019-2020. He currently serves as president of the M.D./O.D. Contact Lens Foundation of Saint Louis and is past member of the Board of the Saint Louis Optometric Society, where he served as president in 2002. He continues to hold affiliations with the American Optometric Association, Missouri Optometric Association, St. Louis Optometric Society and the American Optometric Association/Contact Lens Section. He is a current member of the board for the Saint Louis Sports Commission, president of the board for Clare’s House and is also past board member for the Saint Louis Zoo.

Dr. Mulqueeny is active in clinical research involving dry eye syndrome; serving as a principal investigator of the DREAM study – Dry Eye Assessment and Management Study, the PROOF study to determine the natural progression of dry eye disease, as well as ONIT – Oral Nutritional Impact on Tear Film clinical investigation. He serves on the advisory boards of Allergan, Novartis, Alcon, Zeavision and others, assisting in the development of products for eye care professionals and consumers to preserve healthy vision.

Julie Poteet, OD, MS, CNS, FOWNS

Dr. Poteet graduated from the New England College of Optometry and pursued a residency in primary care and ocular disease at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

At the VA, Dr. Poteet became interested in why some veterans age at different rates than their peers and began questioning what lifestyle factors have the greatest impact on health and vitality.

She then completed a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. In 2015, after earning her master’s degree, she completed the requirements to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist, the most rigorous nutrition certification which fewer than 15 optometrists hold in the U.S.

Dr. Poteet served as vice president of the Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society (OWNS) for six years under her mentor Dr. Stuart Richer and was president for three years.

She has written and lectured extensively on the microbiome and immune system dysfunction, macular degeneration, nutrition and healthy aging of the eyes, and the use of nutrition to mitigate the course of ocular disease.

She currently practices in Atlanta, Georgia at Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence and is a board member of the American Nutrition Association, formerly the American College of Nutrition.






Without ongoing contributions from generous donors like you, the Macular Degeneration Association would be

unable to fund Research and Education for the millions of people living with macular degeneration.




Phone, Mail or Online

Phone: Please call (941)893-4387 today to speak to one of our Donor Services Representatives.

Mail: Send your check or money order today payable to:


5969 Cattleridge Boulevard, Suite 100 | Sarasota, FL 34232

Online: Please visit www.macularhope.org today and click on the Donation tab.

Stocks, Securities, Mutual Funds and IRAs

Please give serious consideration to the donation of stock and mutual fund shares as this offers numerous opportunities

to make a most gracious gift and receive tax advantages.

Wills, Bequests and Planned Gifts

Please give serious consideration to the designation of MDA in your Will, Charitable Trusts, Life Insurance, Appreciated

Securities and Real Estate as this offers preplanned giving opportunities that will serve the macular community for

years to come. Please call Lynne Henry (941)893-4389 at the Macular Degeneration Association, today, for personal

assistance in initiating this effort.

The following language has been reviewed and is deemed a legally acceptable form for including such a bequest in a will:

“I give and bequeath to the Macular Degeneration Association, 5969 Cattleridge Blvd. Suite # 100 Sarasota, FL 34232

for discretionary use in carrying out its aims and purposes, (the sum of $_____) or ( a sum equal to _______% of

the value of my gross estate at the time of my death under this will or any codicil hereto).”

The Macular Degeneration Association Federal ID number is 27-3025707




Honor a family member, friend or special event by donating to MDA. Pay tribute to someone you love whose life

has been impacted by macular degeneration. In lieu of flowers, please consider designating Macular Degeneration

Association as your charity of choice.




Launch a Giving Campaign

Please consider leading a team at work by encouraging your colleagues and staff to join together to help those

living with macular degeneration. Launch a workplace giving campaign today.

Ask about Matching Gifts

Many gracious employers double or even triple charitable donations made by individual employees. Some companies

will match gifts made by retirees and or their spouses. Contact your employer for matching gift eligibility

as this allows you to maximize your personal donation.


Thank you!


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