by Dr Katerina Prokopiou, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Basic and Clinical Sciences, University of Nicosia Medical School.
Retinal degeneration is one of the main causes of vision loss, whether this is due to an age-related condition, such as dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or due to a genetic condition, such as Stargardt disease. Numerous studies were reported in both dry AMD and Stargardt disease patients that involved stem cell therapy, gene treatments and various pharmacological approaches; yet currently, there are no approved therapeutic interventions that improve visual acuity. The severely diminished vision undoubtedly interferes with the patients’ daily living, and ability to function normally, with significant direct and indirect costs involved. Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing interest in the role of omega-3 fatty acids in eye diseases, and several studies demonstrated their protective effects in inflammatory-associated, ischaemia-associated, light-associated, oxygen-associated and age-associated pathologies.
In the current lecture, a brief overview of the most common ocular conditions will be presented, followed by summative information on the importance of omega-3 versus omega-6 fatty acids. The most relevant pre-clinical studies designed by our research group will be discussed; in particular the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in animal models of retinal degeneration, either due to an underlying pathology or due to normal aging. To conclude, final remarks will be made with regards to suggestions on the appropriate use of omega-3 fatty acids in retinal degeneration and how future studies may further confirm their therapeutic potential.