Snack fats may damage the eyes but omega 3 can help beat blindness, new research suggests. Previous research has revealed that people who eat more fat are more prone to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. A group of researchers at Harvard University set out to investigate the effect of specific types of fat on AMD. Lead researcher Dr. Johanna Seddon and colleagues questioned 349 patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and 504 people with other eye conditions about their smoking status and dietary and other health habits. All were aged 55 to 80. Results showed that higher vegetable fat consumption was associated with an elevated risk for AMD. The risk for AMD was also significantly elevated with a higher intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as a higher quantity of linoleic acid. The scientists also found that an elevated consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a lower risk for AMD among individuals consuming diets low in linoleic acid. "We are showing that specific types of fat rather than total fat intake is associated with the disease," Seddon commented. "There's not a clear indication about where the problems lie. These types of fat may affect blood vessels in the eye, or the ability of blood to clot, which affects blood vessels." "Our Western diet is rich in omega-6 kinds of fatty acids and relatively low in the omega-3's,"Seddon says. "It seems that when you improve the balance of those kinds of fatty acids, it's beneficial for your health." In short, the findings suggest that our diets should be composed of less junk food and more oily fish. Full findings are published in the August 2001 issue of Archives of Opthamology.