High-dose supplementation with omega-3 EPA and DHA improves vision in people with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a recent study published in the journal PharmaNutrition. The high-dose omega-3 supplement consisted of 3.4 grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 1.6 grams of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and was taken daily for six months.

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe and irreversible loss of central vision, affecting almost nine million people in the United States. Inflammation and oxidative stress play a major role in the development of AMD, which is why researchers thought omega-3 supplements might help—they have anti-inflammatory effects and are known to benefit eye health.

“Since there is no existing treatment for dry AMD, the positive clinical improvements obtained in this pilot study should be considered striking since 100 percent of the patients had an increase of at least one line of vision within 4.5 months after starting the omega-3 fatty acid supplementation,” noted the authors.

Not all studies on omega-3 supplementation and macular degeneration have found a benefit, but the authors explain that dosage may have been to blame. “We hypothesize the reason that our open label experiments with high-dose omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of dry AMD was successful is a consequence of both (a) the increased dosage and (b) the higher levels of EPA delivered with our omega-3 fatty acid formulation.” The EPA levels in the formula were four to five times greater than in two previous studies that did not find benefit.

I have blogged about studies on omega-3 and macular degeneration in the past. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for eye health as well as inflammation. If you are concerned about these conditions, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.