could be avoided by elderly people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
This is the finding of a study by scientists at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, led by Dr Chi-Chao Chan, who looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on mice with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
A diet rich in omega-3 was found to protect against AMD in the mice and it is hoped that these results can now be confirmed in humans.
The full report of the study will be published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.
Dr Chi-Chao Chan is now expected to use this model to investigate other possible ways to protect against AMD.
The condition affects ten per cent of people aged between 66 and 74 and is one of the main causes of legal blindness.
Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats, most commonly found in cold water oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.