March is Save Your Vision Month!
For most of us, getting older usually means worsening eyesight. Unfortunately for many people worsening eyesight is more than just a mere annoyance. People with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) face the prospect of reduced vision that can’t be helped by glasses, or even legal blindness. Fortunately, scientists are finding ways to protect your aging eyes . . . and getting your fish oil is one of those!What is AMD?
AMD is the deterioration of the retina, of which the macula is a part. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina. It’s responsible for the sharp, central vision required for reading or driving, and it makes out the fine details of things we look at such as people’s faces.
When AMD is present, sufferers lose this central vision and are left with just the outermost peripheral vision, making everyday tasks such as safely walking up and down stairs, driving, and reading all but impossible.What Causes AMD?
There is no known cause of AMD. Genetics are thought to play a role, as AMD typically runs in families. Inflammation may also play a role. Women and whites are more often affected than other subsets of the population. Other risk factors for AMD include:
Steps You Can Take
- Having light colored irises
- Being obese or having metabolic syndrome
- Having sleep apnea
- Taking certain medications
- High exposure to the sun or living near the equator
While you can’t change your genetics, there are steps you can take to slow the progression of the disease. A recent study showed that those people who consumed the largest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (the kind found in fish oil) were 30% less likely to have the disease progress to the advanced form over a 12-year period than those people who consumed the lowest amounts of the fatty acid. Why Fish Oil?
Inflammation is a necessary response to injury, infection, or injury. However, sometimes a condition known as chronic inflammation occurs. This is a symptom of a system gone awry. In this situation, instead of protecting an organism, the inflammation actually starts to kill the organism. Anti-inflammatories work to reduce the swelling caused by the inflammation, which is why they’re an important component of healthy living.
Fish oil, an omega-3 fatty acid, is an anti-inflammatory. It is known that omega-3 fats help people with various health conditions such as cancer, skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, heart disease, arthritis, Chron’s disease, irritable bowel disorders, depression, anxiety, mood swings, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD and ADD.
Age-related macular degeneration can now be added to that list, which is good news for the nearly 1.75 million Americans suffering with AMD severe enough to impair their vision.
According to the study, the people who reaped the most benefits from the consumption of fish oil got approximately 11 percent of their calories from omega-3s, versus about 1 percent for people with the lowest intake.
The study didn’t distinguish between eating fish and taking a fish oil supplement. What it Means for You
Even if you’re not concerned about AMD, there are a number of health benefits to including fish oil in your diet. The best sources are salmon and flax seed. If you prefer supplements, you can find good quality supplements at many stores or online.