Changing your diet could help prevent late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and save your eyesight, according to recent research out of the University at Buffalo — The State University of New York (SUNY).
Study participants who ate too much of the unhealthy foods that are common in a Western diet tripled their risk of developing the eye condition, researchers found.
Late-stage AMD impacts central vision, preventing affected people from driving and performing other daily activities. There is no cure for the condition.
More than 2 million Americans age 50 and older have late-stage AMD, which is more common in women than men. By age 80, 1 in 10 Americans has it.
The type of diet that the University at Buffalo study, which was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, found increased the risk of late-stage AMD includes:
- Red meat
- Processed meats
- Fried foods
- Refined grains
- High-fat dairy products
Amy Millen, the study’s senior author and associate professor and associate chair of the UB Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, says in an announcement:
“What we observed in this study was that people who had no AMD or early AMD at the start of our study and reported frequently consuming unhealthy foods were more likely to develop vision-threatening, late-stage disease approximately 18 years later.”
Early AMD typically does not cause symptoms, but instead is diagnosed by a physician who sees abnormalities when examining photos of a patient’s retina.
By contrast, people who progress to late AMD often experience a diminishment of their vision as either atrophy or a buildup of new blood vessels impacts the macula.
The rather unhappy bottom line? If you have been diagnosed with early AMD — a group that includes more than 9 million Americans — or you simply want to lower your risk of late-stage AMD, it might be time to say “so long” to your white-bread morning toast or evening hamburger.
As Millen says:
“Our work provides additional evidence that diet matters. From a public health standpoint, we can tell people that if you have early AMD, it is likely in your best interest to limit your intake of processed meat, fried food, refined grains and high-fat dairy to preserve your vision over time.”
Another way to protect your eyesight
A poor diet isn’t the only danger capable of stealing your eyesight later in life. As we previously have reported, the shingles virus can cause blindness:
“The number of cases of shingles of the eye — known as herpes zoster ophthalmicus — tripled between 2004 and 2016, say researchers at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center. The condition can potentially cause blindness.”
The vision-threatening nature of shingles is just one more reason to get vaccinated against the disease. For more information, check out “This Cause of Blindness Is Soaring Among Seniors.”