Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables could lessen the risk of an eye disease now affecting more than 1.29 million Australians.
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an increasingly common problem among people older than 50 and leads to the loss of central vision.
A recent analysis of high-quality research reveals that diet may affect individuals’ risks related to the development and progression of AMD.
New Zealand optometrists Naoko Chapman and Rob Jacobs teamed up with registered dietician Dr Andrea Braakhuis and trawled through 1300 published papers on the topic of eye health and diet, before narrowing their analysis to 18 high-quality studies.
The evidence from the research found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet was linked with a decreased risk of AMD progression.
An Oriental diet pattern – with a higher intake of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes and seafood – had a lower association with AMD prevalence.
Specifically, eating plenty of vegetables rich in carotenoids and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids could help those at risk.
A Western diet pattern – with a higher intake of red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, fried potatoes, refined grains and egg – had a higher association with AMD, as did having more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
The team further found an increased link between AMD and diets containing food high on the glycaemic index, such as sugar, white and some wholemeal breads, and white rice.
"Improving the quality of the diet, increasing the intake of foods that contain the nutrients required by the retina, and avoiding foods that induce oxidative damage will play an important role in protecting against AMD," said Ms Chapman, of the University of Auckland, in New Zealand.
Would you consider eating more fruit and veg if you knew it would protect your eye health?
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