Unhealthy Western diet may increase risk of vision loss in older people

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Scientists from the University at Buffalo have discovered that individuals who consume a diet high in red and processed meat, fried food, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products are three times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a common eye condition that leads to a deterioration of central vision and is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults.

The disease occurs when the macula, responsible for sharp, central vision, becomes damaged due to the natural aging process.

Impact of AMD on Vision

AMD affects the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

While it does not result in complete blindness, AMD can severely impair central vision, making it challenging to perform tasks such as reading, recognizing faces, driving, or engaging in close-up work.

The progression of AMD varies from person to person, with some individuals experiencing slow deterioration while others may face a faster decline. Regular eye exams are crucial for early detection and intervention.

Study on Dietary Patterns and AMD Risk

The University at Buffalo study aimed to investigate the connection between dietary patterns and AMD risk in older individuals.

Participants underwent retinal photography, and any changes in AMD lesions between two visits were evaluated.

Additionally, a food frequency questionnaire was used to analyze the dietary habits of the participants, identifying 29 food groups.

Western and Prudent Dietary Patterns

The study identified two distinct dietary patterns: the Western Pattern Diet (WPD) and the prudent diet.

The WPD, also known as the Standard American Diet (SAD), is characterized by a high consumption of processed foods, red meat, high-fat dairy products, high-sugar foods, and pre-packaged foods, which are associated with an increased risk of chronic illnesses.

On the other hand, the prudent diet emphasizes a high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and fish, offering a nutrient-dense and health-promoting approach.

Findings and Implications

The study revealed that while there were no significant associations between dietary patterns and the risk of early AMD, individuals adhering to a Western diet exhibited a higher risk of developing late AMD.

In contrast, the Prudent diet was associated with a decreased risk of late AMD, although the effect was not strong enough to be considered a significant preventive factor.

These findings suggest that dietary choices, specifically a Western diet, may play a role in the development of late-stage AMD.

Conclusion and Further Research

Based on the study’s results, the research team suggests that dietary patterns are not strongly linked to the risk of early AMD.

However, adopting a Western pattern diet may increase the likelihood of developing late-stage AMD.

Further investigations are necessary to better understand the complex relationship between diet and AMD risk, as well as to explore potential interventions or dietary modifications that could mitigate the risk of late AMD.

Please note that the information provided in this summary is based on the study conducted by Shruti Dighe et al. and published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about a breakfast linked to better blood vessel health, and drinking too much coffee could harm people with high blood pressure.

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