Increased inclusion of fatty foods and red meat can increase in older people the risk of vision loss, says a new study. According to the research, there is a three times increased likeliness of developing age-related macular degeneration among Americans who consumed Western diets.
"People know that diet influences cardiovascular risk and the risk of obesity, but the public may not know that diet can affect vision loss," said Amy Millen, lead author of the study.
What is age-related macular degeneration(AMD)?
One is said to be afflicted with the condition when the macula, the central part of the retina, is found to be damaged. There are various reasons for the degeneration of the macula. Drusen, yellow fatty deposits under the retina, are a known cause.
Sometimes, during the formation of new blood vessels, blood leaks. This can harm the macula as well. Factors raising the risks of age-related macular degeneration include smoking and one's genetics.
Nearly 1,300 people from a nationally representative sample were chosen for the study. 117 of the participants had early AMD and 27 had late AMD. During the course of the 18-year study, participants answered surveys about their dietary habits twice. In order to measure the quality of the diet, the foods were classified into 29 categories.
They found that foods such as high-fat dairy, fats such as margarine and butter, fried foods, and red and processed meats, increased the risk of late-stage AMD. The researchers also found that those who stuck to mostly Western diet were at a greater risk of developing late-stage AMD.
A healthy diet can go a long way
"Diet is one way you might be able to modify your risk of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration," Millen said. Dr Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist who was not part of the study said that the findings of the study were reflective of the suspicion associated with the types of food discussed in the study and AMD.
He added, "It's difficult to switch the way you eat overnight, but this is almost certainly a decades-long process, so try to slowly move toward more virtuous behaviour with food. Try to supplement your current diet with more leafy vegetables and increase your consumption of fish." Both the experts insisted on abstaining from smoking in order to reduce the risk of the onset of AMD in older individuals.