Dr. Ben's Blog

Omega 3’s Don’t Help Your Eyes? Not So Fast…

Last week, the much antic­i­pat­ed first round of results from AREDS 2 were pub­lished. AREDS stands for “Age-Relat­ed Eye Dis­ease Study”, a cross-sec­tion­al, mul­ti­cen­ter, years-long set of stud­ies set out to deter­mine whether the pro­gres­sion of age-relat­ed eye dis­eases, such as mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion could be curbed by the intake of cer­tain nutraceu­ti­cals. The orig­i­nal AREDS results taught us that a cock­tail of vit­a­mins C and E, Zinc, and beta-caro­tine could slow the pro­gres­sion of mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion. AREDS 2 looked at a sim­i­lar com­bi­na­tion with the addi­tion of lutein and zeax­an­thin (caroti­noids sim­i­lar to beta-caro­tine and found in green leafy veg­eta­bles and orange and yel­low fruits and veg­eta­bles respec­tive­ly) and omega 3 fat­ty acids. Inter­est­ing­ly, the addi­tion of omega 3 fat­ty acids (those com­mon­ly found in cold water oily fish, flaxseed, and the like) did not slow the pro­gres­sion of mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion. This find­ing came as some­what of a sur­prise, par­tial­ly due to the fact that sev­er­al man­u­fac­tur­ers of nutraceu­ti­cals began mar­ket­ing the “AREDS 2” for­mu­la to the pub­lic over a year ago.

How­ev­er, omega 3 fat­ty acids con­tin­ue to have a defin­i­tive place in eye care and sys­temic care. They have been shown to have pos­i­tive effects for the treat­ment of dry eye dis­ease, high cho­les­terol, and sev­er­al oth­er con­di­tions that plague an aging Amer­i­ca on a large scale. So, do not read the pre­lim­i­nary results of the AREDS 2 study and quit your omega 3 intake. It is help­ing your eyes and the rest of you. Still, though, you have to be your own advo­cate and know that there will nev­er be a mag­i­cal pill that will keep your eyes young. You (and your kids) need to use sun­glass­es when out­side, nev­er start smok­ing, eat your veg­gies, stay away from a high fat diet, con­trol any blood pres­sure or blood sug­ar issues, and choose your par­ents wisely.

Posted in Dr. Ben's Blog, Eye Health