Macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of blindness in mature people and is known as – Age Related Macular Degeneration (ADM).
AMD is a progressive eye condition caused by damage or breakdown of the macula, the small part of the eye's retina that is responsible for our central vision. This condition affects both distance and close vision.
Your diet can play a large part in your risk of developing macular degeneration.
To help prevent it you should start eating healthier now.
Beta-Carotene, Vitamins C and E
Researchers in the Netherlands conducted a study which was aimed at finding how a person’s diet can affect their risk of developing macular degeneration. The study conducted was over an 8-year period, consisting of 4,000 people.
It was found that those in the study who ate plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, lowered their risks of developing macular degeneration by up to 35%. Those, whose diet was not as healthy or nutritious as the average, had a 20% increased risk of developing macular degeneration.
Two other carotenoids, beta-cryptoxanthin and alph-carotene in medical studies have shown to lower the risk of AMD by 25 to 35 percent.
Eating foods that contain zinc, or zinc supplements will also be beneficial to eye health. The retina contains zinc which plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of eye enzymes. Those afflicted with AMD have very low levels of zinc in the retina.
Zeaxanthin and Lutein – Inseparable Antioxidants
Foods which contain lutein also contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Experts have found that the tissues of the macula have high concentrations of these paired antioxidants.
As much as 90% of blue light (blue light is emitted from computer screens, iPads and Smart phones) that enters the eyes are being absorbed by the macula and these antioxidants function as a sunscreen to filter out the damaging rays.
Greater pigment density in the macula means higher levels of protection for the retina which may additionally translate to lowered risks of macular degeneration and cataract formation.
Our bodies though, do not have the capability to produce these antioxidants, so we need to obtain them from our daily diet.
A 1994 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reported that people who consumed the most vegetables rich in carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin had a 43% lower risk of AMD over their counter parts who ate these foods the least.
The report also said that a higher frequency of intake of spinach or collard greens was associated with a substantially lower risk for AMD.
Foods such as broccoli, Romaine lettuce, collards, spinach and kale are known to be helpful in increasing the pigment density in a person’s macula.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids increase protection for the light receptor cells in a person’s eyes.
Having high levels of omega 3 fatty acids helps protect the eyes from damage which can be caused by free radicals and too much exposure to sunlight.
Eating one serving daily of omega-3-rich foods such as found in salmon, walnuts, fresh ground flax seeds or beans, can help lower one’s risk of macular degeneration by up to 30%.
A study showed that regular consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids helped individuals who had early signs of AMD and reduced their risk of advanced symptoms.
Prevent Macular Degeneration By Avoiding Refined Carbohydrates
Highly refined foods have a high glycemic index, causing a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin release.
These low-quality low-nutrient carbohydrate foods can increase the risks of getting cataracts and AMD.
Low-quality carbs have a high glycemic index which can lead to having high sugar concentrations in the eyes.
Frequent and long-term consumption of sugary foods can cause inflammation and oxidative stress which may eventually damage the tiny capillaries and the retina in the eyes.
The British Journal of Ophthalmology published a AMD study that involved 4,000 people ages 43 to 86 who were monitored for 15 years. After considering other risk factors such as weight, cholesterol levels and age, researchers found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to develop AMD develop during the follow-up period.
Increasing your consumption of foods high in nutrients and minimizing your intake of foods that contain low-quality carbs will help to prevent macular degeneration.