The New Era of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation: Therapeutic Effects on Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (pp. 205-215)
Authors: Tassos Georgiou and Ekatherine Prokopiou
Abstract: One of the major causes of reduced vision over the age of 50 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although such a common pathology, there are no current guidelines for the first-line treatment of dry AMD. The aim of this study is to evaluate the therapeutic effects of high omega-3 fatty acids as anti-inflammatory agents in two sub-groups of dry AMD patients with 1) mild to moderate visual impairment and 2) with severe visual impairment (blindness). The key feature of this investigation is the frequent monitoring of the levels of specific fatty acids in patient¡¯s blood in order to adjust the treatment dose within the ideal therapeutic window.
Following the positive outcome from our initial observational studies in patients with dry AMD, who demonstrated significant improvement in visual acuity (gain of ¡Ư 1 line of vision in 4.5 months) when taking a total of 5 g/day eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), additional studies were encouraged. The latest data which is presented in this chapter suggests that the eyes which had the greatest gain in vision (¡Ư 15 letters gain at 6 months) were from patients with mild to moderate visual impairment, who were taking between 5-7.5 g/day EPA and DHA and had a ratio of arachidonic acid (AA)/EPA < 2. In addition, a sub-group of dry AMD patients with severe visual impairment (< 6/60), showed significant increase in their visual acuity only 3 months following treatment with omega-3 fatty acids. The preliminary results indicate a promising therapeutic regime for dry AMD and perhaps for other types of retinopathies as well.
Although initial results are encouraging, further investigations are necessary to establish a better understanding of the mode of action of these supplements and to observe their long-term effects.