Among patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) receiving vitamin A, those who consumed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids had slower rates of visual decline than those who did not, according to a study in Archives of Ophthalmology.1
Eliot L. Berson, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues evaluated dietary intake questionnaires completed annually by 357 patients with RP who were enrolled in 3 randomized trials. All patients were receiving 15 000 IU of vitamin A per day for 4 to 6 years. The investigators compared the rates of visual acuity decline between patients with high omega-3 intake (0.20 g/day or more) and patients with low omega-3 intake (less than 0.20 g/day).
Mean rates of visual acuity decline were slower among patients with high omega-3 intake. Based on Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) distance acuity testing, the mean rate of decline per year was 0.59 letter for individuals in the high omega-3 intake group compared with 1.00 letter for individuals in the low omega-3 intake group (P = .001). For retinal visual acuity, the mean rates of decline were 1.5% per year in the high omega-3 intake group and 2.8% per year for the low omega-3 dietary intake group (P = .03).
“We conclude that mean annual rates of decline in distance and retinal visual acuities in adults with [RP] receiving vitamin A 15 000 IU/d, are slower over 4 to 6 years among those consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids,” the study authors wrote. “To our knowledge, this is the first report that nutritional intake can modify the rate of decline of visual acuity in [RP].”
- Berson EL, Rosner B, Sandberg MA, Weigel-DiFranco C, Willett WC. Omega-3 intake and visual acuity in patients with retinitis pigmentosa receiving vitamin A [published online ahead of print February 13, 2012]. Arch Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.2580.
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