Visual Function

EPA for Retinal Neuron DHA Synthesis

This article at a glance Photoreceptor cells contain high levels of DHA in their outer light-sensitive segment. Past research had shown that the DHA in photoreceptors was obtained from hepatic synthesis transported via the circulation, as well as from local synthesis in the retinal pigment epithelial cells that support photoreceptor function. New research indicates that photoreceptor neurons themselves can also import EPA and convert it to DHA to serve a role in their differentiation and protection from oxidative damage.   The photoreceptor cell is a neuronal cell type specialized in…

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Oral Omega-3 Long-Chain PUFA Intake to Improve Comfort of People with Dry Eye

This article at a glance There is much ongoing research to assess if omega-3 LCPUFA intake can provide relief in different forms of dry eye disease. Three recent studies indicate that omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation can improve dry eye symptoms alone or in combination with other means. The relief provided is indicated to be useful for people with dry eye disease in contact lens wearers and in people who are exposed to computer screens for many hours every day.   Introduction Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a quite common ailment…

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Addressing the Potential of an Adjunct Therapeutic Role for Supplemental EPA/DHA in VEGF-A-Mediated Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

This article at a glance VEGF inhibitors have significantly improved the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD). In a pilot study, the possible adjunct therapeutic potential for omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation to lower the intravitreal levels of VEGF, as a central mediator for neovascularization, has been addressed in wet AMD patients treated with anti-VEGF antibodies.   Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula lutea, the light-detecting central part of the retina. AMD leads to progressive and severe loss of vision in humans, with incidence strongly related to…

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Topical Long-Chain Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation and Improve Eye Surface in Model of Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (dry eye) is one of the leading reasons for patient visits to ophthalmologists in part because its symptoms are unpleasant. They include pain, dryness, grittiness, itchiness, burning, light sensitivity, difficulty reading, driving and doing computer work, all of which undermine one’s quality of life. Dry eye is a condition of insufficient tears to lubricate the eye and is common throughout the world. In the U.S., the condition affects about 3.3 and 1.7 million women and men over the age of 50 years, respectively, and 10 to 20%…

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Long-Chain Omega-3 Consumption Associated with Improved Symptoms in Patients with Dry Eye Syndrome

The rationale for exploring the potential benefits of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) in dry eye syndrome (dry eye) stems from their well known anti-inflammatory properties and from the reduced incidence of certain eye diseases among individuals who consume fish or these PUFAs. In 2005, an epidemiological study reported that the consumption of tuna or higher amounts of n-3 LC-PUFAs was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dry eye. Since then, various investigators have explored dietary supplementation with n-3 LC-PUFAs or mixtures containing these PUFAs plus n-6 PUFA,…

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DHA-Rich Omega-3 Supplementation Linked to Improvements in Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition of reduced quantity or quality of tears that increases the risk of ocular surface infections and has bothersome symptoms that interfere with activities such as reading, working at a computer and driving a car. Individuals who develop the condition are more likely to be female, older, have reduced androgen levels, use exogenous estrogen, have imbalanced intakes of PUFAs and take certain medications. Data from two large prospective, U.S. studies in health professionals reported that 3.3 million women and 1.7 million men aged 50 and…

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No Effect on Progression of AMD with Addition of EPA and DHA or Lutein and Zeaxanthin to AREDS Supplement

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that damages the retina and blurs an individual’s central vision, can interfere with the ability to read and drive. It mainly affects people over the age of 50 and begins with the formation of yellow or white deposits or drusen under the retina (Figure). Enlarged drusen indicate early AMD, which may progress to advanced disease and eventually blindness. In developed countries, AMD is the leading cause of blindness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1.8 million Americans over the age of…

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Long-Chain Omega-3s and High-Dose Vitamin A Slow Visual Loss in Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is an eye disease of genetic origin that slowly damages the retina and impairs vision. It is usually first noticed by poor night vision, which progresses gradually to impaired peripheral vision (tunnel vision), then loss of central vision. The hallmark of the condition is black spicule-shaped deposits in the retina (Figure). The condition mainly affects the rod cells responsible for night vision, but may affect the cone cells as well. Retinitis pigmentosa affects about 1 in 4,000 people in the U.S. The authors of this report have conducted…

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DHA Restriction Leads to Distortions in Visual Pathways in Early Development

The development of visual pathways from the retina to the visual cortex in the brain involves the proper arrangement of retinal neuronal axons within two brain structures along the route. These structures, the superior colliculus and the lateral geniculate nucleus, require precise alignment (topography) of the neural connections from the retina and other sensory tissues so that coordinated responses are possible (Figure). For example, connections with motor neurons permit eye movement; those with auditory neurons enable visual responses to sound. Coordinated sensory responses permit three-dimensional vision and the recognition of…

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Increased Corneal Nerve Regeneration and Function with DHA Plus PEDF After Injury

This issue of the PUFA Newsletter reports research demonstrating that injured peripheral neurons are more resistant to damage from injury and recover more quickly and extensively when cellular concentrations of DHA and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA n-3) are elevated. In this article, Haydee Bazan and colleagues at Louisiana State University and the University of Illinois Medical Center describe improved corneal nerve regeneration and function in the presence of DHA and pigment epithelial-derived factor (PEDF). These investigators have previously reported that corneal nerve regeneration increases in the presence of DHA + PEDF…

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