Visual-acuity development in healthy preterm infants: effect of marine-oil supplementation

Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Jul;58(1):35-42. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/58.1.35.


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) is important for normal visual development. We hypothesized that preterm infants fed formulas with marine oil as a source of DHA would have better visual acuity than infants fed formulas without marine oil, as measured by the Teller Acuity Card procedure. Marine oil (P < 0.001) and age (P < 0.0001) influenced visual acuity, by repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) corrected for the effect of subject. Marine-oil-supplemented infants had better visual acuity than those fed standard formulas at 2 and 4 mo of age, by Fishers' least-squares difference (LSD). Acuity of both dietary groups improved through 6.5 mo of age, then plateaued. Through 4 mo of age, acuity was inversely related to oxygen supplementation (log10 h) and positively related to DHA status, by general-linear-models (GLM) analysis. After 4 mo of age, birth weight and gestational age were the only variables consistently related to visual acuity by GLM. We conclude that marine-oil-supplemented formula improved visual acuity of preterm infants through 4 mo of age by improving DHA status.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / blood
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Linolenic Acids / blood
  • Visual Acuity*


  • Fish Oils
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids