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New Omega-3 May Prevent Alzheimer’s-Related Vision Loss

New Omega-3 Form Alzheimer's
Scientists developed a new Omega-3 form that could help prevent visual decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Credit: rawdonfox / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A new study presented at Discover BMB, a conference of scientists, suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s disease who are experiencing vision problems.

However, this study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, says the Healthline.

The scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago who conducted the study developed a type of omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that can enter the retina of the eye to improve vision problems related to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other eye conditions such as macular degeneration.

To test their supplement, the scientists used mice that were bred to display symptoms similar to those seen in people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The amount of supplement given to the mice was equivalent to taking 250-500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day for humans.

After six months, the mice that received the supplement showed a 96 percent increase in their retinal DHA levels, and their retinal structure and function were preserved.

DHA levels in Alzheimer’s patients

People with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of DHA in their retinas, according to Medical News Today.

DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid, plays a crucial role in maintaining proper retinal function. Dr. Mohammed Zeeshan Afzal, a primary care doctor and dermatologist with more than 14 years of experience, explained that DHA is linked to various retinal conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, retinopathy of prematurity, and retinitis pigmentosa.

In addition, Dr. Afzal noted that diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina.

DHA has been shown to have a protective effect on these blood vessels by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that can contribute to the development of diabetic retinopathy, added Dr. Afzal.

The founder of the Inflammation Research Foundation, Dr. Barry Sears, said that DHA is crucial for reducing inflammation in neurons. He explains that DHA is the building block required to make specific hormones called resolvins that are necessary for reducing excess inflammation in the neurons.

DHA could prevent Alzheimer’s-related visual decline

The authors of the study suggest that people with Alzheimer’s disease could benefit from the findings. People with this disease often experience problems with their vision, but there are many possible causes.

Dr. Sears explained that the same inflammatory processes that cause Alzheimer’s disease, in general, might be responsible for vision impairment in Alzheimer’s patients. Moreover, Dr. Zeeshan Afzal also told Medical News Today that there are many potential causes.

The damage to the brain’s visual processing centers causes vision impairment in people with Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, it can affect their ability to recognize faces, read, and move around. This happens because of the buildup of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain. These disrupt communication between neurons and cause cell death, explained Dr. Afzal.

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