Healthy Eating Provides Macular Degeneration Protective Effect

While 20/20 vision is a symbol of visual acuity, between now and the year 2020, more and more people will experience some extent of vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration and other sight-robbing diseases.
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Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina that affects the macula in the back of the eye. The macula is important for clear central vision, allowing an individual to see fine details. There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common and is characterized by the thinning of the retina and drusen, small yellowish-white deposits that form within the retina. The dry form of macular degeneration is usually mild. Wet macular degeneration can happen more quickly and be more serious. It occurs when vessels under the retinal layer hemorrhage and cause the retinal cells to die creating blind spots or distorted vision in the central vision. The disease becomes increasingly common amongst people in each succeeding decade over 50.

Now, scientists at are finding that healthy eating can reduce not only health care costs, but also the decline of quality of life due to these diseases.

One study indicated that regularly consuming a combination of protective nutrients and a low-glycemic-index, or “slow carb,” diet provided an age-related macular degeneration protective effect. A food’s glycemic index is an indicator of how fast the carbohydrate it contains will spike blood sugar levels. The macula is a 3-millimeter-wide yellow spot near the center of the retina responsible for the central field of vision.

For the study, the researchers analyzed dietary intake and other data from more than 4,000 men and women, aged 55 to 80, who had participated in the long-term Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS. Led by Chung-Jung Chiu, the researchers ranked intake of each of several nutrients consumed during the AREDS study, then calculated a compound score to gauge their combined dietary effect on the risk of age-related macular degeneration. The scoring system allowed them to evaluate associations between individual—and combined—dietary nutrients.

The nutrients that were found to be most protective in combination with the low-glycemic-index diet were vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and the omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA and EPA. The 2009 study was published in Ophthalmology.

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Source : Elements4Health

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