retinitis pigmentosa

  1. Omega-3 fatty acid DHA can protect your vision

    How DHA can save your vision & your wallet

    New glasses... again???

    Seems like you only bought your current lenses last year... yet here you are at the eye doctor again, squinting at yet another big bill for yet another new set of lenses.

    But there may be an easy way to protect your eyes and help ensure that those lenses last a little longer this time, and that's with the same omega-3 fatty acids you should be getting anyway.

    In a new study, researchers found that mice fed the omega-3 fatty acid DHA -- one of the main fats in fish oil -- saw no increase in toxins in the retina, while those that didn't get fish oil saw the normal rise in toxins.

    As a result, the mice that got the fish oil managed to avoid some of the vision loss that usually comes naturally with aging.

    The researchers are now launching a second study, this time on humans, to see if DHA can help limit the damage of age-related macular degeneration. That's the leading cause of blindness in people over 50, and the research so far has been very encouraging.

    A 2010 study, for example, found that omega-3 fatty acids can cut the risk of the "wet" form of AMD by 35 percent, and the dry form by 32 percent.

    Omega-3s might help with other eye diseases as well. A Harvard study earlier this year found that just 200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids can delay blindness in patients with retinitis pigmentosa by up to 18 years.

    There's no drug that can do that -- just fish oil, so make sure you're getting in on this all-natural miracle.

  2. Fish oil and vitamin A can save your vision

    Some two million people around the world suffer from a serious degenerative eye disease that literally has no treatment at all beyond "cross your fingers and hope for the best."

    But if you're suffering from the gradual -- and ultimately total -- loss of vision that marks retinitis pigmentosa, you don't have to cross your fingers anymore.

    New research led by Harvard University shows an easy way to stop this frightening condition in its tracks -- and it's not a new drug with side effects or an operation with risks.

    It's an ordinary vitamin mixed with a little bit of fish.

    Three clinical trials show that megadoses of vitamin A -- 15,000 IU a day -- combined with 0.2 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids can slow the loss of vision by between 40 percent and 50 percent.

    In real numbers, that could add up to an extra 18 years of vision.

    The researchers don't know for sure why roughly two servings of fatty fish a week can have such a powerful impact on all that vitamin A, but they've got their eyes on one omega-3 fatty acid in particular: DHA.

    Your retina is already loaded with DHA (which is why fatty fish -- not carrots -- is what you should be eating for good vision even if you're healthy). And in the case of retinitis pigmentosa, the researchers believe extra DHA is needed to help carry the vitamin A from the photoreceptor cells that have it to those that don't.

    The result isn't a cure for retinitis pigmentosa, but it could dramatically change the prognosis.

    Right now, someone with this condition can expect to go blind by the age of 60. With vitamin A and fish oil, that might be delayed until they're almost 80 -- or right around our actual life expectancy these days.

    Since too much vitamin A can interfere with vitamin D and may even increase your risk of osteoporosis, don't try treating yourself on this one -- talk to your doctor about the best and safest way to raise your A levels.

    And don't forget to add the fish oil -- because along with helping to slow retinitis pigmentosa, omega-3 fatty acids can also slash your risk of both the "wet" and "dry" forms of macular degeneration.

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