Evidence is mounting that a poor diet plays an important role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the United States. A large collaboration of researchers from the European Union investigating the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD has found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 percent. This research expands on previous studies and suggests that such a diet is beneficial for everyone, whether you already have the disease or are at risk of developing it. The new research is now online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

A Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating less meat and more fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains, and olive oil. Previous research has linked it to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline. But only a few studies have evaluated its impact on AMD. Some studies showed it can help with certain types of AMD, or only at different stages of the disease.

But combining this earlier research on AMD with the latest data, and a clear picture emerges. Diet has the potential to prevent a blinding disease.

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