There is growing evidence that poor diet plays an important role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the main causes of blindness in France. A large collaboration of researchers from the European Union studying the link between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet reduced by 41% their risk of advanced AMD. 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 emphasizes the consumption of fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains and olive oil. Previous research has already linked its practice to longer lifespan and reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline. But recent work has just shown its positive impact on AMD.
The Mediterranean diet prevents blinding diseases
AMD is a degenerative eye disease . This leads to loss of central vision, which is crucial 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 25 years and older, affecting 1.5 million French. By 1016, this number should increase by 50%, reaching 2.2 million. This disease is today the leading cause of visual impairment in people over the age of 25 years in the developed nations. The risk of occurrence of the disease increases with age to exceed 25% of the population after the age of 55 years.
Decrease the occurrence of AMD
For this latest study, researchers analyzed the food frequency questionnaires of nearly 5 000 people who participated in two previous studies: the Rotterdam study assessing the risk of disease in people with 55 years and over and the Alienor study. Patients in the Rotterdam study were screened and completed dietary questionnaires every five years over a period of 21 years, while patients in the Alienor study were observed every two years over a four-year period. Researchers found that those who followed the diet closely were 41% less likely to develop AMD than those who did not follow the diet.
Sight loss is a public health problem linked to poor diet
They also found that none of the individual components of a Mediterranean diet per se – fish, fruit, vegetables, etc. – reduced the risk of AMD. On the contrary, it was the whole tendency to eat a nutrient-rich diet that significantly reduced the risk of late AMD.
For Emily Chew, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who sits on the advisory board of the research group in charge of the study: “blinding diseases like AMD are a public health problem just like smoking. Chronic diseases such as AMD, dementia, obesity and diabetes all have roots in poor eating habits. »
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The dry type affects approximately 55 to 90% of people with AMD. In dry AMD, small white or yellowish deposits, called drusen, form on the retina, causing it to deteriorate over time. In the wet form, blood vessels grow under the retina and leak. Although there is an effective treatment for the wet type, no treatment is available for dry AMD at this time. There remains the solution of modifying his diet and adopting the Mediterranean diet.
Bénédicte MJ Merle et al. Mediterranean diet and incidence of advanced age-related macular degeneration, ophthalmology (2018). DOI: 24.1016 / j.ophtha.1016.10.006
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