How Western diets can reduce your eye health

Eye health
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Researchers have recently linked age-related macular degeneration to diets high in red meat, fried foods and high fat dairy.

In a study conducted at the University at Buffalo, USA, participant were three times more likely to develop specific eye conditions if they ate a diet that is high in red meat, processed meat, fried food, refined grains and high fat dairy. These eye conditions cause damage to the retina, affecting the person’s central vision.

This condition, called late stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an irreversible condition that affects the central vision. AMD takes away people’s ability to drive and perform daily tasks.

“Treatment for late, neovascular AMD is invasive and expensive, and there is no treatment for geographic atrophy, the other form of late AMD that also causes vision loss.

“It is in our best interest to catch this condition early and prevent development of late AMD,” said Shruti Dighe, who conducted the research as part of her master’s in epidemiology at UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Researchers suggest that a Western dietary pattern, consuming large amounts of processed fatty foods, could have a strong link with the development of AMD, however it is no associate with the early development of macular degeneration.

Using data from 66 different foods reported by participants between 1987 and 1995, researchers identified two diet patterns in the cohort. The first of which being the Western diet and the second was referred to by the researchers as ‘prudent’, demonstrating the greatest variation.

“What we observed in this study was that people who had no AMD or early AMD at the start of our study and reported frequently consuming unhealthy foods were more likely to develop vison-threatening, late stage disease approximately 18 years later,” said study senior author Amy Millen, PhD, associate professor and associate chair of epidemiology and environmental health at UB.

“When people start developing these changes, they will begin to notice visual symptoms. Their vision will start diminishing,” Dighe said. “This is advanced or late stage AMD.”

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