Omega 3 and Benefits for Vision

Omega 3 and Benefits for Vision

What are Omega 3s?

The group of so-called  Omega three  includes three different fatty acids, called respectively:  alpha linolenic acid  (ALA),  eicosapentaenoic acid  (EPA) and  docosahexaenoic acid  (DHA).

These nutrients  are defined as  essential , since the body is not able to produce them independently and must therefore obtain them from  food . However, to be precise, the only one of the three that is totally essential is the ALA; from this, in fact, the body is able to obtain EPA and DHA. However, it is a capacity that can be scarce or compromised, which is why the diet should contain all 3 in adequate quantities.

Omega 3: Properties

Omega 3s perform various vital and/or necessary functions for maintaining general health.

The properties of omega 3 are numerous but, in this article, we will focus on the role they can play in supporting visual function.

Omega 3 for Vision

Eye Health: What are the Benefits of Omega 3?

Omega 3s are essential nutrients for the eyes , consequently for vision.

The link between eyesight and omega 3 is quite complex and can be summarized as follows:

  • Omega three participate in the birth and development of the tissues that make up the eyes, as well as their subsequent maintenance.
  • The eyes are abundantly vascularised by a dense  capillary network ; omega three play a vasodilator role and promote capillary elasticity.
  • Omega 3s oppose the damage caused by chronic hyperglycemia  , among which impaired vision is very frequent.
  • It has been hypothesized that omega three may have a relevant importance in the prevention of certain pathological degenerative forms typical of old age .

Omega 3 and Development

Omega 3: Role in Vision Development

Several studies have shown that omega 3s are necessary for infant visual function. In particular, docosahexaenoic acid is considered a very important nutrient for nervous and ocular development.
The role of DHA for growth is so considerable that in the latest revision of the LARN*, SINU* recommends taking an additional amount of this  fatty acid  compared to the previously recommended levels.

*LARN:  Recommended Intake Levels for Nutrients and Energy in the Italian population
*SINU:  Italian Society of Human Nutrition

DHA is of primary importance in  fetal development  and   it is recommended to take  omega 3 supplements during pregnancy . According to a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, supplementation with DHA from the fourth month of pregnancy until delivery decreased the likelihood that the unborn child would have lower than normal visual acuity. This omega 3 is also required in higher quantities in the diet of infants and children up to the second year of life. Keep in mind that the concentration of omega 3 in  breast milk  is greatly influenced by the diet and it could be recommended to correct the diet or use a

dietary supplement .
According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy infants  born prematurely  fed a DHA-rich formula develop superior visual acuity compared to infants who were fed a regular formula.
A Canadian study states that dietary supplementation  of DHA supports the  growth of children  up to the twelfth year of life.

Omega 3 and the Third Age

Omega 3 and Role in Eye Pathologies

It has been hypothesized that omega three may have a positive role in  age-related macular degeneration  (AMD) and  dry eye syndrome . The insights into this matter have been discordant and the role of omega 3 in these conditions is not yet fully understood.
Furthermore, it is possible that these essential fats promote proper drainage of intraocular fluid, decreasing the risk of ocular hypertension  and  glaucoma . These effects seem to be more noticeable in those who follow a diet rich in  fatty fish ; the role of supplements is still not fully known.
It is believed that omega 3 can perform all these functions especially in people who have followed a diet naturally rich in essential fats throughout their lives.
On the other hand, it must be kept in mind that in old age the body loses, albeit partially, the ability to obtain EPA and DHA from ALA; this requires structuring the diet more carefully and suggests the use of a food supplement based on EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 and capillaries

Omega 3: Effects on Circulation

Omega 3s have a vasodilator effect and promote blood flow.
This favors the blood circulation, especially the capillary one.
It is logical to think that omega three can exert a potentially beneficial effect for all conditions in which this function is compromised.
Among the  complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus  there are also alterations of the  microcirculation ; the eyes are more than significantly affected by this effect.
diet rich in omega 3 and any supplement with omega 3, EPA and DHA types, could have a positive effect by preventing or reducing the severity of these complications.

What to do?

In infants, children up to the second year of life, pregnant and breastfeeding women and  the elderly at risk of eye diseases, it is recommended to increase the intake of omega 3 in the diet , especially EPA and DHA.
The body is normally able to produce EPA and DHA from ALA, but in some circumstances this function remains compromised.

Omega 3: Useful Advice

To avoid a lack of all omega 3, it is advisable to follow some tips:

  • Promote the intake of foods rich in ALA (of plant origin)
  • Promote the intake of foods rich in EPA and DHA ( fish products )
  • Consider using a dietary supplement that primarily supplies DHA ( fish oil ,  krill oil , algae oil, squid oil, etc). N.B. _ These products require impeccable storage and are very sensitive to light, heat and oxygen.


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