There is increasing evidence that poor nutrition plays an important role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in France. A large collaboration of EU researchers studying the relationship between genes and lifestyle in the development of AMD found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of late-stage AMD by 41%. 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 Mediterranean diet focuses on the consumption of fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains, and olive oil. Previous research has already linked its practices to a longer lifespan, reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline. But recent work has just shown its positive impact on AMD.
Mediterranean diet prevents blinding diseases
AMD is a degenerative disease of the eye. This results in a loss of central vision, which is critical for simple daily activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read and write. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years of age or older, and affects 1.5 million French people. By 2030, this number is expected to increase by 50% to 2.2 million. This disease is today the main cause of visual impairment in people over 50 years of age in developed countries. The risk of developing the disease increases with age to exceed 25% of the population after the age of 75.
Reduce the incidence of AMD
In this latest study, researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaires for nearly 5,000 people who took part in two previous studies: the Rotterdam Study to assess disease risk in people aged 55 or older and the Alienor Study. Patients in the Rotterdam Study were examined and completed dietary questionnaires every five years over a 21-year period, while patients in the Alienor study were observed every two years over a four-year period. The researchers found that those who followed the diet closely were 41% less likely to develop AMD than those who did not follow the diet.
Vision loss is a public health problem associated with poor diet
They also found that none of the individual components of a Mediterranean diet per se – fish, fruits, vegetables, etc. Reduce the risk of AMD. Conversely, it was the whole tendency to eat a nutrient-dense diet that significantly reduced the risk of late-onset AMD.
For Emily Chu, MD, a clinical spokeswoman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who sits on the advisory board of the research group responsible for the study: “Blinding diseases like AMD are a public health problem like smoking. Chronic diseases like AMD, dementia, obesity, and diabetes all have their roots in healthy habits. Bad eating.”
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The dry type affects about 80-90% of people with AMD. In dry AMD, small white or yellow deposits, called drusen, form on the retina, causing it to deteriorate over time. In the wet form, blood vessels under the retina grow and leak. Although there is an effective treatment for the wet type, there is no treatment available for dry AMD at this time. There is still a solution to modify his diet and adopt the Mediterranean diet.
Benedicte MJ Merle et al. Mediterranean diet and incidence of advanced age-related macular degeneration, Ophthalmology (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.08.066
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