Omega-3 may help treat vision loss, Cypriot scientists say

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By Marie Kambas

CYPRIOT scientists have discovered a new treatment for wet macular degeneration which involves taking high doses of omega-3 fatty acids which improve visual acuity and visual field three months after the beginning of treatment, ophthalmologist Tasos Georgiou said.

“We have achieved a new treatment here at the institute; this new treatment, not only protects the eyes from vision loss, but also improves the patient’s vision,” Georgiou, who is chief ophthalmologist at the Nicosia-based Institute of Research and Education Ophthalmos told the Cyprus Mail.

The age-related macular degeneration is a serious visual disorder that may lead to the loss of central vision, that would normally allow a person to recognise faces, read, drive and do other everyday activities. While dry macular degeneration is the most common form of disease and leads to a gradual reduction of central vision loss, the wet form is the most serious one, as it can lead to a sudden vision loss and ultimately to blindness.

Georgiou said that macular degeneration comes from small inflammations, which destroy the cells on the patient’s retina. High doses of omega-3 fatty acids taken by a patient in liquid form through the mouth slowly remove the inflammation and lead to a gradual recovery of the cells.

Ophthalmos treated over 400 patients in the past six years since it started researching new therapies, Georgiou said. A 45 year old woman who lost 85 per cent of her eyesight “regained her sight with a 65 per cent visual difference” after 18 months of treatment and is now able to drive, he said.

Giannos Georgiades a legal advisor to the institute, said that foreign investors had also shown an interest in the project and were willing to invest over €150m in the programme.

“Foreign investors will promote the patent, which has a Cypriot identity. Therefore it’s good for Cyprus’s reputation, and such an initiative gives Cyprus the opportunity to promote itself as a scientific centre,” Georgiades said.

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