For years, scientists have been extolling the virtues of oils and other substances found in fish, and a new study has added further weight to their argument.
According to research carried out by experts at the University of Alberta, the fatty acid found in fish prevents sight loss.
The report, published in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, details how an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, known as DHA, prevented age-related vision loss in laboratory tests.
Study leader Yves Sauve, a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, found that lab models fed DHA did not accumulate a toxic molecule at the back of the eyes, which normally builds up in the retina with age and causes vision loss.
According to the expert, the discovery could result in a "very broad" therapeutic use if further tests are successful.
"In normal aging, this toxin increases two-fold as we age. But in lab tests, there was no increase in this toxin whatsoever. This has never been demonstrated before – that supplementing the diet with DHA could make this kind of difference," he added.
The experts have also now started work on another study, which looks at people who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that results in the loss of central vision and is the main cause of blindness in people over the age of 50.
According to the specialists, they are looking for DNA markers in the blood of study participants in a bid to determine if people with certain genetic markers will respond better to increasing amounts of DHA in their diet and, if so, why.
It is hoped that the results of the two studies could lead to a reduction in the number of people across the globe suffering from blinding conditions such as AMD, as well as other diseases affecting the eye.