Dietary fatty acids and the 10-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 May;127(5):656-65. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.76.


Objective: To assess the relationship between baseline dietary fatty acids and 10-year incident age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Methods: In an elderly Australian cohort, 3654 participants were examined at baseline and 2454 were examined 5 and/or 10 years later. We assessed AMD from retinal photographs. Participants completed a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire.

Results: After adjusting for age, sex, and smoking, 1 serving of fish per week was associated with reduced risk of incident early AMD (relative risk, 0.69 [95% confidence interval, 0.49-0.98]), primarily among participants with less than the median linoleic acid consumption (0.57 [0.36-0.89]). Findings were similar for intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. One to 2 servings of nuts per week was associated with reduced risk of incident early AMD (relative risk, 0.65 [95% confidence interval, 0.47-0.91]). Protective associations between the intake of nuts and reduced risk of pigmentary abnormalities were seen among nonsmokers, participants with less than the median ratio of serum total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and those with beta carotene intake greater than the median level.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence of protection against early AMD from regularly eating fish, greater consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and low intakes of foods rich in linoleic acid. Regular consumption of nuts may also reduce AMD risk. Joint effects from multiple factors are suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Eating
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fish Products
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nuts
  • Photography
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3