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Unhealthy Eating Patterns Can Cause Blindness in Old Age

Unhealthy Eating Patterns Can Cause Blindness in Old Age - A new study that lasted nearly 2 decades has found an association between an unhealthy diet and vision loss at an older age.

Not many people consider the impact of eating patterns on their vision. A new study that appears in the British Journal of Ophthalmology has found an association between a diet rich in unhealthy foods and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a condition that affects the retina as we age, causing central vision to blur. This part of the fundamental idea that helps people see objects clearly and perform daily activities such as reading and driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, around 1.8 million people aged 40 years and over live with AMD, and 7.3 million others have a condition called drusen, which usually precedes AMD.

Unhealthy Eating Patterns Can Cause Blindness in Old Age
The CDC also explains that AMD is a leading cause of permanent reading and visual impairment or close-ups among people aged 65 years and over.

Study author Amy Millen, from the University at Buffalo in New York, said that most people understand that diet affects the risk of cardiovascular disease and the risk of obesity.

"But I'm not sure the public thinks about whether or not dieting affects one's risk of vision loss later in life," he said as reported by Medical News Today, Thursday (01/05/2020).

The study looked at the development of early and late AMD in participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk Study in the Community, who observed arterial health for 18 years (1987-1995).

Using data on 66 different types of food, the researchers identified two dietary patterns, namely the first food group dubbed "Prudent," or healthy. Second, the "Western" group, which includes a high intake of processed and red meat, fried food, dessert, eggs, refined grains, high-fat milk, and sweet drinks.

Although the researchers did not find an association between early AMD and diet, they found that the incidence of late AMD was three times higher among those with a Western diet.

"What we observed in this study was that people who did not have AMD or early AMD at the start of our research, and reported frequently consuming [unhealthy] foods, were more likely to develop a threatening vision, end-stage disease about 18 years later, "said Dr. Millen

Early stage AMD has no symptoms. One may not realize that AMD is getting an early stage. Although not everyone will reach the final stage of AMD, for those who experience, the cost of treatment is prohibitive.

There are two forms of AMD in the final stages. One of them is called wet AMD or neovascular AMD, which health professionals tend to treat by injecting antivascular growth factors.

The other is called dry AMD or geographic atrophy, which occurs when photoreceptor cells die without neovascularization. There is no effective treatment for this form of AMD.

"We want people to realize that diet is important for their vision. The clinical message that can be taken home is that food intake might make a difference in determining central vision loss later in life," he said.

If someone has early AMD, he said, they have more interest in maintaining a diet by limiting the ingredients identified as part of a Western diet in moderation.

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