Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss for older Australians and can lead to declines in sharp central vision or even partial blindness, but it doesn’t take much effort to greatly reduce your risk, according to this new study.
In fact, it turns out that that old wives’ tale about eating more carrots is the answer!
The Harvard University-led study tracked more than 100,000 people over the age of 50 over a period of 25 years.
It found that people who consumed the highest levels of food pigment carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing the advanced form of macular degeneration than those who ate the least.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the eye, where they are known as the macular pigment.
In fruits and veg, these carotenoids give colour to the more vibrant fruits and veggies. Rich sources are carrots, of course, plus red and yellow capsicums, sweet potatoes, oranges, beetroot, blueberries, spinach, kale and other dark-green vegetables.
The research team found that people who consumed the very highest levels of carotenoids known as lutein and zeaxanthin had a 40 percent lower risk of the advanced form of AMD compared to those who ate the very least.
“Other carotenoids, including beta cryptoxanthin, alpha carotene and beta carotene, may also play protective roles,” said the lead author.
People who consumed the very highest amount of these carotenoids had a 25 to 35 percent lower risk of the advanced form of the illness, the findings showed.
Researchers did not find any link between the carotenoids and the intermediate form of macular degeneration, however.
‘This study suggests that carotenoids may slow worsening of AMD once it occurs,’ the researchers concluded in the journal JAMA Opthalmology.
Current recommendations are that all Australian adults eat two serves of fruit per day and at least five serves of vegetables.
Are you getting enough fruit and veg? Did you know that your vision could depend on it?