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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in industrialized countries in people aged 50 years and older. Food definitely plays an important role. Here are some dietary guidelines to prevent or slow the progression of AMD.
As its name suggests, macular degeneration results from the deterioration of the macula, a small area of the retina located at the back of the eye, near the optic nerve. This condition causes a gradual loss of central vision, which becomes increasingly blurred. Most often, this condition is related to aging, so it’s called age-related macular degeneration or AMD. People with a family history of macular degeneration are particularly at risk. Other important risk factors include smoking, the degree of pigmentation of the eye (an increased risk with a clear iris), ultraviolet light, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, as well as poor eating habits.
Studies indicate that the Mediterranean diet is linked to a decrease in the progression of AMD. A high consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as fish, especially fatty fish rich in omega-3, have been shown to provide a protective effect. On the other hand, a high consumption of red meat, vegetable oils rich in omega-6, and alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day) has been associated with an increased risk of AMD.
Carotenoids have received a lot of attention in recent years for their antioxidant powers and protective effects on eye health. These are fat-soluble pigments found in red, yellow, orange and dark green fruits and vegetables. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids that are abundant in the macula and may have a protective effect on the health of the eyes. A high intake of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids is associated with a decrease in the incidence of AMD. Goji berries are also very rich in carotenoids. According to a recent study, consuming 25 grams of Goji berries a day could help prevent the progression of AMD.
Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements specifically designed for eye health such as Vitalux and PreserVision are available on the market. According to a large-scale meta-analysis, antioxidant supplements may help delay the progression of AMD, but not all studies confirm their effects. So, it is best to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before opting to try an antioxidant supplement. On the other hand, before considering supplements, it might be worth it trying to quit smoking and adopt an active lifestyle, as well as a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.