A study conducted over a period of 18 years looked at dietary patterns and the development of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and found that poor diet is associated with AMD.
AMD affects the part of the retina at the back of the eye that is responsible for central vision. It is the most common cause of age-related sight loss in the developed world.
It is well known that an unhealthy diet is leads to an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease however people are not aware of that fact that it can lead to loss of vision.
AMD is the leading cause of impairment of close up vision
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) have reported that around 1.8 million people aged 40 plus are affected by AMD in the US and go further to say that it is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading or close up vision in those aged 65 years and over. AMD is thought to affect half of the 370,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Opthalmology, included a nationally representative sample of nearly 1300 people. Of that sample, 117 had early stage AMD and 27 had late stage AMD. Over the duration of the study they completed surveys about their diets twice.
A food frequency questionnaire was used to identify 29 food groups which the researchers used to categorise diet patterns into two groups. They called the first group 'prudent' or healthful and they second they called 'Western'. The latter included a lot of 'processed and red meat, fried foods, dessert, eggs, refined grains, high fat dairy and sugar sweetened beverages.'
Those who ate Western diets three times more likely to develop AMD
The study identified that those who ate Western diets were three times more likely to develop late-stage age-related macular degeneration. As the study was observational it couldn't prove that healthy eating reduced the risk of developing AMD but it does show that diet is one way you can modify the risk of vision loss from AMD.
The NHS website reports on a study carried out by researchers from the University of London and funded by the Macular Diseases Society. The research estimates that the current UK prevalence of late stage AMD is actually 2.4% of the adult population (513,000 cases) and that this figure is set to rise by one-third over the next decade, totaling nearly 700,000 cases by 2020.
Prevention is key
It is important to note that this increase in cases is down to the UK's ageing population rather than an increase in the condition per se and highlights the fact that we have to look after the health of our eyes now so that they're able to serve as well in old age.
You could look to increase the amount and range of healthful foods you're consuming or you may wish to supplement your diet to support the health of your eyes - a highly recommended choice would be a complex of Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin. All three are powerful carotenoids proven to protect the health of the macula as they work together across the entire retina.