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Omega-3 fatty acids may help sufferers of diabetes prevent retinopathy

Harold Mandel's picture
An eye examination

Researchers at the Lipid Clinic, Barcelona, and associates have found consuming omega-3 fatty acids my decrease the risk for diabetic retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes is a dreaded condition with many potential serious complications. As reported by WebMD the high blood sugar associated with diabetes can over time lead to damage and problems with your kidneys, heart and blood vessels, nerves, wound healing, pregnancy and eyes. A natural remedy which may help prevent diabetic retinopathy is to consume large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids according to the JAMA Network.

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes which affects eyes. This results from damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue which is located at the back of the eye. Mayo Clinic reports that this condition can eventually cause blindness. Anyone suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes can get this condition. The longer you suffer from diabetes and the poorer your blood sugar control is the more likely you are to be afflicted with this serious complication of the eyes.

According to a study which has been published by JAMA Ophthalmology consumption of at least 500 mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of getting diabetic retinopathy in middle aged and older people suffering from type 2 diabetes. This amount of omega-3 fatty acids can be easily achieved with at least 2 servings a week of oily fish.

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness across the world

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There has been a steady rise of disability seen in the elderly who suffer from diabetes due to the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the increased anticipated lifespan. Diabetic retinopathy has become a leading cause of blindness worldwide. The natural remedy of omega-3 fatty acids to prevent or delay the onset of this horrible condition is therefore welcome.

There is less diabetic retinopathy with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids

Aleix Sala-Vila, D.Pharm., Ph.D., of the Lipid Clinic, Barcelona, and colleagues investigated Mediterranean diets which were supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts in comparison to a control diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular problems in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It was observed that there was a lower incidence of diabetic retinopathy in individuals who consumed at least 500mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although they are needed for human health the body can't make them. It is therefore necessary to get omega-3 fatty acids from food. These fatty acids which are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in many types of fish including mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna, salmon, and halibut, algae, krill, and nut oils. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to play a vital role in brain function and normal growth and development. They may also help to lower the risk of heart disease.

It has been shown by research that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and may help to decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. There is a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and they appear to be vital for cognitive and behavioral function. It has been observed that infants who fail to get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at an increased risk for the development of vision and nerve problems.

The symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency are serious and include poor memory, fatigue, heart problems, dry skin, poor circulation and mood swings or depression. The finding that deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is also associated with diabetic retinopathy in people suffering from type 2 diabetes is now also worth considering when planning your diet.

JAMA: Dietary Marine ω-3 Fatty Acids and Incident Sight-Threatening Retinopathy in Middle-Aged and Older Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes
Mayo Clinic: Diabetic retinopathy
University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 fatty acids