Fatty Fish Could Cut Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy

Health Writer
Medically Reviewed

With more people living longer with diabetes, the rise in diabetes-related disabilities has become a major concern. One increasingly common complication is diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss.

Now there’s evidence that a diet high in healthy fats may significantly reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy in older adults. The retina is rich in long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and it has been suggested that supplementation may help protect against diabetic retinopathy.

To test the theory, researchers studied data from an earlier randomized clinical trial conducted in Spain that examined the effects of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular risk over a period of roughly six years.

Of the nearly 7,500 volunteers, the researchers focused on a subgroup of about 3,500 participants diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The average age was 67 years.

After adjusting for age, sex, and lifestyle, among other variables, their analysis found that participants who consumed at least 500 milligrams a day or more of omega-3 fatty acids had a 48 percent lower risk of diabetic retinopathy compared with those who consumed less.

Bottom line

People, including patients with diabetes, who are seeking to include more omega-3s as part of their regular diet can do so by following the American Heart Association’s recommendation of eating two servings of fatty fish a week.

Source: JAMA OPHTHALMOLOGY Published October 2016