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How eating oily fish can prevent you going blind

by Sophie Borland

A diet rich in oily fish could hold the key to preventing blindness among thousands of the elderly, research has found.

The omega-3 group of fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna, may help protect against the most common form of sight loss among older people, it suggests.

Scientists studying the diets of adults over the age of 65 found those who regularly ate seafood were far less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, which is caused by the death of cells in the retina.

In the study, American scientists surveyed 2,400 volunteers aged 65 to 84. Those who ate oily fish or shellfish – particularly crab, oysters or mussels – twice a week or more often were far less likely to have AMD, the results in the Ophthalmology journal revealed.

It is thought that the omega-3s may help protect cells in the retina from damage caused by sunlight, which occurs gradually with age.

The research at Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland backs up earlier studies which showed omega-3s help slow the progression of advanced AMD.

Lead researcher Dr Sheila West said: ‘While participants in all groups, including controls, averaged at least one serving of fish or shellfish per week, those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood.’

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been known to help lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of irregular heart rhythms, halt growth of fat clogging the arteries and reduce levels of the harmful fat triglyceride, which has been linked to heart attacks.

Research has also shown they cut the risk of prostate and skin cancer.