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Can we combat age-related macular degeneration through our diet?

20 April 2017
Incidence of age-related macular degeneration likely to double by 2050

People living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who eat the right types and amounts of certain foods may actually slow the progression of the disease.

Changing your diet may play a key role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), finds research by nutritionist Professor Vicki Flood from University of Sydney.

Published in Nutrients journal, the paper identified research suggesting that people living with AMD who eat the right types and amounts of certain foods in their diet may actually slow the progression of the disease.

AMD is a leading cause of blindness in the developed world. US research has forecast that the number of patients with AMD is likely to double between 2010 and 2050.

“Two carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin (L/Z) are highly concentrated in the retina of the eye and are responsible for the main part of our vision. They have been shown to play a role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and may also slow its progression,” said Professor Flood from the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Lutein and Zeaxanthin are found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and in other foods such as broccoli, eggs, pistachio nuts, pumpkin, corn and avocado.

“Eating plenty of these foods as part of an overall balanced diet is recommended to obtain sufficient amounts of L/Z daily for good eye health.

“For Australians this means that they may not need to spend large amounts of money in the form of supplements and medications to ensure good eye health if they prioritise making informed food choices,” said Professor Flood.

The study aimed to critically examine the literature and evaluate the current evidence relating to L/Z intake and AMD, assess the benefits of consuming these nutrients from a range of easily accessible foods that contain high levels of L/Z, and provide practical examples of how we can incorporate them into our diet to better our eye health.

“Another finding of the research is that while the total amount and distribution of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the food supply is important, it is also necessary to take into account factors that affect the absorption and bioavailability,” Professor Flood added.

“For example, the consumption of fat, as found in whole eggs or extra virgin olive oil, with your vegies can help you absorb more of the L/Z that is on your plate.”

Kobi Print

Media and PR Adviser (Health Sciences)