Consumption of at least 500 mg/d of dietary long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCω3PUFAs) has been linked to a decreased risk of diabetic retinopathy in older patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Aleix Sala-Vila, DPharm, PhD, Lipid Clinic, Endocrinology and Nutrition Service, Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques, Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues, conducted a prospective study within the PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterŕanea) trial to determine which Mediterranean diet – one supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts vs a control diet – was more effective for primary cardiovascular prevention. Between 2003 and 2009, the researchers recruited 3614 individuals 55 to 80 years of age with a previous diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The primary study outcome was incident diabetic retinopathy, requiring laser photocoagulation, vitrectomy, or antiangiogenic therapy.

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In total, 65% (n=2611) of participants met the target LCω3PUFA recommendation. Nearly 70 new events were documented during 6 years of follow-up.

“After adjusting for age, sex, intervention group, and lifestyle and clinical variables, participants meeting the LCω3PUFA recommendation at baseline (≥500 mg/d) compared with those not fulfilling this recommendation (<500 mg/d) showed a 48% relatively reduced risk of incident sight-threatening DR,” concluded Dr Sala-Vila. “This association was slightly stronger for yearly updated LCω3PUFA intake.”

The researchers noted that target LCω3PUFA intake of 500 mg/d is easily achievable with 2 weekly servings of oily fish.


  1. Sala-Vila A, Díz-López A, Valls-Predret C, et al. Dietary marine ω-3 fatty acids and incident sight-threatening retinopathy in middle-aged and older individuals with type 2 diabetes. Prospective investigation from the PREDIMED trial. JAMA Opthalmol. 2016; doi: 10.1001/jamaopthalmol.2016.2906