Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements Linked to Improved Vision, Quality of Life in Dry AMD Patients

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A new study shows BCVA scores and blood levels of AA/EPA significantly improved in treated patients with dry AMD or Stargardt disease at 24 weeks.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may improve objective and subjective measures of vision among patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or Stargardt disease, according to new findings.

In a prospective, multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2022 Meeting this weekend, an international team of investigators observed improvements in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to arachidonic acid (AA) in patients administered omega-3 fatty acids over 24 weeks.

The findings could implicate the popular supplement’s benefit in preventing—or even reversing—vision loss among patients with the common chronic ophthalmic diseases while posing minimal safety risks.

Led by Katerina Prokopiou, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, investigators conducted an investigation into omega-3 fatty acids in patients with dry AMD or Stargardt disease. “The need for an effective therapeutic intervention in patients with vision loss due to retinal degeneration still remains high,” they wrote.

Prokopiou and colleagues recruited 21 patients with BCVA baseline scores between 21 – 55 ETDRS letters. Mean patient age was 60.0±2.3 years old, with 9 (42.8%) being female. Patients were randomized 2:1 to either daily EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (Eyetas 3.7 g) or placebo (sunflower oil) for 24 weeks. They sought primary outcomes including letters gained from BCVA and ratio of AA/EPA—each measured at screening, 12 weeks and 24 weeks.

Trial participants additionally underwent a 7-item treatment-related quality-of-life questionnaire on perceived vision and subjective mood at both 12 and 24 weeks.

Investigators observed a mean BCVA increase from 40.93 at screening to 46.93 at 24 weeks among patients administered omega-3 fatty acids—an improvement of exactly 6 ETDRS letters. There was no significant increase observed among patients administered placebo (P = .002).

Mean AA/EPA levels among treated patients decreased significantly from screening (5.84) to 12 weeks (1.50; P = .002) and 24 weeks (1.47; P = .002). Again, investigators observed no significant improvement among patients administered placebo.

Lastly, mean questionnaire scores were improved among patients given treatment versus placebo at 24 weeks, though the 2 arms scored similarly at week 12.

Prokopiou and colleagues concluded the findings suggest promise of care for dry AMD and Stargardt disease treatment with omega-3 fatty acid, highlighting the significance of the patient-perspective questionnaire results and the need for immediately accessibility of the supplement in investigation.

“The promising results of this study suggest that EPA-rich omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may have a positive impact on the quality of life of patients experiencing these conditions and alleviate the financial burden associated with the conditions,” investigators wrote.

The study, “A prospective, multicentre, randomised, double-blind study designed to assess the potential effects of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in dry age-related macular degeneration or Stargardt disease,” was presented at ARVO 2022.