Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is the Western (American) diet bad for your eyes?

Diet and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Is the Western diet bad for your eyes?  A new study suggests that the Western diet increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. When you loose your vision to AMD, you never get it back.  The disease can seriously impact your quality of life.  Here is an example.

This is normal vision:

Normal vision compared to vision with AMD

This is vision with AMD:

Normal vision compared to vision with AMD

Researchers have identified certain nutrients such as Lutein and zeaxanthin to help reduce your risk of developing AMD.  It is good advice to eat one cup of colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges and tangerines four times a week.

The new study, which was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, looked at dietary patters such as the "Western" diet compared to the "oriental" diet and sought to determine which diet was connected to a higher risk of developing AMD.

The Oriental dietary pattern was characterized by higher intake of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes, and seafood. The Western dietary pattern was characterized by higher intake of red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, French fries, refined grains, and eggs.

The researchers concluded that overall diet is significantly associated with the odds of AMD and that dietary management as an AMD prevention strategy warrants further study.

This is the latest in a large body of research linking diet and nutrition to eye health.  You can learn about others by browsing through the older posts on this blog.

Source:

American Journal of Ophthalmology
The Relationship of Major American Dietary Patterns to Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Am J Ophthalmol 2014 Apr 30;[EPub Ahead of Print], C-J Chiu, M-L Chang, FF Zhang, T Li, G Gensler, M Schleicher, A Taylor