Healthy diets slow eye disease

Healthy diets that included omega-3s and carotenoids plus antioxidants helped preserve eyesight in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), two new studies reveal.

Doctors from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, said that because the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) protect against AMD, they wanted to re-analyze an earlier AMD study that had tested a range of vitamin-mineral supplements but had not measured diet. Researchers examined the diets of nearly 3,000 participants with AMD and found that regardless of the supplements they had taken, those who consumed more than 64 mg of DHA per day or more than 42 mg of EPA per day were about 26 percent less likely to have advanced AMD compared to those who consumed the least DHA or EPA.

In another finding from the same re-analysis, researchers discovered that AMD progressed 24 percent more slowly in those who consumed a lower glycemic diet that included high quality complex carbohydrates compared to those who consumed a higher glycemic diet with more refined carbohydrates.

In another AMD study, doctors said that while they do not know what causes AMD, they do know that progressive oxidative damage plays a role. Over 400 participants with at least early stage AMD took a placebo or a daily antioxidant formula containing the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. After 12 months, the rate of decline to late stage AMD from early stage AMD had slowed in the antioxidant group but not in the placebo group. The antioxidant group could see more clearly at a distance compared to placebo and while the placebo group had lost macular pigment—the yellow color in the lens and retina of the eye that enables sight and protects eyes from light—the antioxidant group maintained stable macular pigment levels. The name of the study was Carotenoids and Co-antioxidants in Age-Related Maculopathy or CARMA.

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