Omega 3’s, good fat for your eyes
We know our diets make up a large part of our overall health, staying in shape with good diets keeps our bodies and minds fit, but what about our eyes? Is there a solution to protect our eye health that can be found through diet? The answer is yes. Data has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin (pigments known to protect your eyes from harmful light and lower the risk of macular degeneration), vitamin C (protective against cataract formation), and vitamin E and Zinc (fight against visual degeneration) all help and promote better ocular health. What is more recent addition to this list is Omega-3 fatty acids!
Known to help in cardiovascular, immune, and neurology Omega 3’s should already be an essential part in your overall diet to promote wellness. Omega’s 3’s role in ocular health is less known and so we are going to guide you on a brief overview of some of the many benefits.
Fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of eye diseases, like dry eye and macular degeneration. They are even more important during early development according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18789910) based on their conclusions the improvement of DHA (a type of Omega 3’s fatty acid) in maternal diet can help to decrease the risk of poor vision and neural delayed development in children. Two types of Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are important for visual development as well as retinal function and health. DHA has a very high concentration in the retina, which is responsible for vision recognition and function. DHA have been shown to prevent against visual impairment and degradation of the retina in animal studies ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21678548/ ). EPA is essential to production of DHA within the body.
Research has found many links between EPA and DHA role in reduction of dry eye disease as well. This is due to the anti-inflammatory activity of these fatty acids. Several studies suggest that Omega 3 supplements help to ease symptoms and progression of dry eye disease which affects a large part of the adult population. A recent study found that supplementation with 1,000 mg Omega 3 (650 mg EPA and 350 mg DHA) over 3 months reduced symptoms and signs of dry eye disease in 518 men and women compared to a control group (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819096/ ). Omega 3 supplements have also been found to increase tear break up time (how long tears coat the eye before evaporation between blinks) and lower tear osmolarity (a measure of one fluidity of tears, lower is better) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975557/ ).
In 2015 a study from the Univeristy of Manchester medical and human sciences found that patients whom had high levels of EPA/DHA had a protective quality against Age Related Macular Degeneration when compared to patients with low EPA/DHA levels (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26610051/ ).
Several other studies suggest Omega 3s play a beneficial role in Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy as well. There is even a study suggesting that Omega 3s are helpful in lowering risk of floaters ( a condition associated with an aging eye, dark spots or rings in front of one’s vision) by easing inflammation which has a connection to the development of floaters.
Changing your diet or choosing the right supplement can be key in ensuring you get enough DHA and EPA. With all its positive impacts adding supplements to your regiment can help prevent diseases in your eyes and the brain. Talk to your optometrist about Omega 3s and their role in your eye health.