Jan 14, 2021

We see a lot in news and articles about what kinds of things we can eat to help with or prevent Macular Degeneration. 

By:  Jeffry Gerson, OD, FAAO- Medical Director- Optometrists – for the Macular Degeneration Association

We see a lot in news and articles about what kinds of things we can eat to help with or prevent macular degeneration.  The main things that come to mind are lutein and zeaxanthin which are found in green leafy vegetables.

A recent publication hypothesizes that fish is an important food item, especially for people with a family history of macular degeneration.

According to one of the authors, Stuart Richer, O.D., This Scripps -VA collaborative study suggests that oily fish consumption, and particular the DHA fraction is important. Offspring of an AMD parent presenting with a vulnerable foveal macular pigment dip, and having similar AMD genetic risk, had a significantly reduced % RBC membrane omega-3 fatty acid fraction and thinner fovea compared with those without that foveal macular pigment dip. Our data supports the growing importance of ‘essential fatty’ acid intake as an independent AMD risk factor.

A healthy macular pigment optical density is a protective biomarker for AMD and people with a “foveal macular pigment dip” (FMPD) are at an increased risk of AMD. We have seen in previous reports that low fish consumption is a risk factor for AMD.

The percentage of people with FMPD in AMD offspring is nearly double compared to a sampling of the general population.  In this study, 41% of offspring of parents with AMD presented with an FMPD.  What seemed to drive this finding was that the long-term red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid status was reduced in these offspring compared to those who did not have FMPD.

Simply put, with equal genetic risk, and other things equal, it appears that fish intake can reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Source: Rutledge, G et al. Foveal Macular Pigment Dip in Offspring of Age-Related Degeneration Patients is Inversely Associated with Omega-3 Index.  BMC Ophthalmology.

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