A new study conducted by the European Union (EU) suggests people who eat a Mediterranean Diet have a reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This research highlights the importance proper diet plays in maintaining eye health.
Scientists involved in this study analyzed the health records and diet habits of about 5,000 study participants. All of this data was taken from two previously published studies (the Rotterdam Study and the Alienor Study) that looked into the relationship between overall health and diet.
As researchers poured over this data, they soon discovered people who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet had an over 40 percent reduced risk of developing AMD compared with people on other diets.
Interestingly, no single factor in the Mediterranean Diet decreased the odds of getting AMD. Scientists note that only people who followed the entire diet protocol experienced eye health benefits.
In their report, study authors argue that public health officials should treat poor dietary habits the same way they handle smoking. Not only do unhealthy diets contribute to poor eyesight, they also increase a person’s risk of diseases like diabetes and dementia.
The critical components of the Mediterranean Diet include eating plenty of fresh fruits & veggies, using olive oil instead of butter, limiting red meat intake, and loading up on lean meats and fish. People on the Mediterranean Diet are also encouraged to use fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, oregano, and basil liberally in their dishes.
There are two major kinds of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form, which causes a person’s retinae to deteriorate over time, is far more common. Wet AMD, on the other hand, involves leaky retinal blood vessels and requires more invasive treatment.
Although there’s no cure for AMD, there are ways doctors can reduce the disease’s symptoms. Besides diet changes, doctors can use eye injections and certain eye medications to slow down AMD’s progression.
Doctors advise all patients over the age of 45 to get eye exams every year to keep track of AMD and other eye disorders. The earlier optometrists can catch AMD, the greater chance a patient has of saving his/her vision.
Dr. Bénédicte M.J. Merle, who teaches at the Université de Bordeaux, was the lead researcher on this EU study. A few other important investigators include Dr. Johanna M. Colijn of Erasmus University and Dr. Karl U. Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt of Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen.
Anyone can find this study in the latest edition of Ophthalmology. This study was published under the title, “Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration.”