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Our omega-3 fish oil eye health guide

Understanding Omega-3's Role in Eye Health

If you care about your health, you might be rigorous when it comes to attending dental or medical check-ups. But if your optician’s starting to suspect you’ve left the country, it may be time to get back in touch.

According to the State of the Nation Eye Health survey of 2017, 25% of UK adults haven’t had an eye test in the past two years or at all. And a quarter of UK adults who say their sight isn’t as good as it was still haven’t seen an optometrist about their concerns. And that’s despite 78% of us saying our sight is the sense we fear losing the most.

Although we live in such a visual world, taking care of our eyes appears to be something we put off until a later date. But what if we told you that out of the two million people in the UK living with significant sight loss, half of this loss of vision is avoidable? This is according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

We all know that smoking, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure can damage our health, but few of us are aware of just how devastating they can be to our sight.

And then there’s our diets. A poor diet can also put your eyesight at risk, yet 60% of us are unaware of the links between what we eat and the health of our eyes, according to Vision Matters, the organisation behind National Eye Health Week.

But besides a healthy diet full of antioxidants, vitamins and healthy whole grains, there’s another ingredient you need to add to your eye-health menu. Omega-3.

Eating more oily fish or taking an omega-3 eye supplement is such a simple thing to do each day, but it could see you continuing to read the small print well into your old age. So what is the link between fish oil and eye health and how exactly does omega-3 work to keep our eyes healthy? Read our omega-3 eye health guide to find out.

The best fish oil you can take to maintain normal vision will have high levels of EPA and DHA per teaspoon. This information should be easy to find, not buried in the small print.

Is omega-3 good for your eyes?

Healthy fats are incredibly important for both good vision and general eye health, but the two types of essential fatty acids found in omega-3 (DHA and EPA) are particularly useful.

Like the brain, your eyes are highly enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. In fact they started to accumulate there right from when you were in your mother’s womb.

After you’re born your eyes still need a constant supply of DHA to work at their best. That’s why DHA is found in large quantities in breast milk.

Even when you’re all grown up, very high levels of DHA can be found in the retina, the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and receives the image formed by the lens. And while it’s not known exactly why, DHA accounts for over half the total fatty acid groups present in the rod outer segment membranes (the cells involved in your peripheral vision that can function in lower light, making them almost entirely responsible for night vision), a proportion higher than is found in any other tissues.

But besides being a major structural component of the eye itself, omega-3 plays an important role in keeping eyes healthy. Having a high concentration of omega-3, particularly DHA, optimises the fluidity of your photoreceptor membranes and maintains retinal integrity to keep your vision normal.

The EFSA approved health claim for DHA is that it contributes to the maintenance of normal vision, and the food or supplement needs to contain at least 40mg of DHA per 100g and the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250mg of DHA.

Read hints and tips on choosing the best omega-3 supplements.

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