How to substantially lower your risk of AMD

June 19, 2009


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the over 60′s. You lose that sharpness of vision you need for everyday tasks like driving and reading and it can result in total blindness.

Two new studies now offer hope that this decline is not inevitable and there is an easy preventive measure anyone can take. The University of Sydney’s Westmead Hospital’s researchers undertook a ten year study and found that eating more fish, nuts, olive oil and foods containing omega-three fatty acids may significantly lower the risk for AMD, particularly if you also avoid trans-fats in your diet.

The researchers found that eating just one serving of fish each week was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of developing early AMD and if you include just one to two servings of nuts a week then there was an increase to a 35 percent lower risk of early AMD. Olive oil is the real key here though as it provides even better protection than the fish. The optimum amount for benefit is over 100 ml a week.

I have long extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, and this is pretty much what this is advocating. In this case the benefits come from the fact that these ‘healthy’ fatty acids may protect the eyes by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries and by reducing inflammation, blood vessel formation and oxygen-related cell damage in the retina.

The research also highlighted who was most likely to have late-stage AMD and that turned out to be those who ate the most trans-fats. These are usually found in processed foods and bakery items. They can lower their risk by cutting out those items and increasing the amount of omega-three fatty acids as that showed they were far less likely to have even early AMD.

Nutrients are known to help with AMD and research by the US National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that taking high-doses of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. The study involved the daily intake of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 International Units of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide, and two milligrams of copper as cupric oxide.


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