Nutrients slow progression of eye disease in children and diabetics


Vitamin A preserved children’s sight 

Special cells in the retina of the eye, called cones, respond to colors in bright light. These cones can begin to fail—part of a group of eye diseases called retinitis pigmentosa (RP)—in adolescents and young adults, often leading to blindness by age 40. In this study, 80 children, average age nine, with different genetic types of RP, took age-adjusted doses of vitamin A less than or equal to 15,000 IU per day, or  did not take vitamin A.

Doctors followed up four to five years later and found children taking vitamin A had nearly 50 percent slower annual loss of cone function compared to those not taking vitamin A: 6.9 percent vs. 13.2 percent. Doctors said treating RP in childhood appears to have greater benefit than in adulthood, where other studies have found only a 17 percent slower annual loss of cone function for those taking vitamin A.

DHA decreased macular thickness

The macula is an area in the center of the retina of the eye responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Chronic high blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage blood vessels near the retina, allowing fluid to build up in the macula (macular edema), distorting vision.

In this study, 55 people with diabetic macular edema took 0.5 mg of ranibizumab, a medication that stops fluid leakage in the eye, once per month for the first four months, then as needed. About half the group took 1,050 mg of the omega-3 DHA per day during this time.

After three years, those taking DHA had an average 11 percent greater decrease in macular thickness, to 275 micrometers compared to 310. The DHA group also had greater improvements in visual acuity, lower long-term average blood sugar levels, higher total antioxidant capacity, and fewer signs of chronic inflammation.

Reference: JAMA Ophthalmology; March, 2018, Published Online
Natural Insights for Well Being August 2018

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