The dietary treat that could ‘double’ the risk of macular degeneration
Medical breakthrough could cure common forms of blindness
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The blurring of the central vision becomes increasingly problematic as the body ages. Often, this is because macular degeneration is inflicting damage to the macular, the part of the eye that produces sharp vision. Several genetic and environmental factors have been linked to the progression of the disease, but diet remains one of the most understudied.
The main dietary culprits linked to the progression of macular degeneration tend to fall under simple carbohydrates.
This is because the body digests these types of carbs quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar.
The Assil Gaur Eye Institute of Los Angeles, however, suggests fatty dietary products may also turbocharger the progression of macular degeneration.
The health body explains: “Health experts recommend staying away from food items that include hydrogenated oils and trans fat.
“Cooking oil with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon is recommended.
“Margarine is considered a healthy alternative to butter but it’s full of trans fats that can increase cholesterol levels.
“Trade unhealthy fats out for polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.”
Early research dating back to 2003 found the risks to human vision were different for each fat consumed.
To assess this, the study followed 261 suffering some degree of vision loss and who had early signs of macular degeneration.
The goal of the research was not to assess the effects of fat but whether diet exacerbated vision among these individuals.
After conducting a thorough analysis the researchers determined that the risk of age macular degeneration progressing doubled among individuals with diets high in fatty processed baked foods.
It was suggested that high-fat diets harm vision by clogging up the vessels in the retina and choroid, depriving these areas of much-needed nutrients.
The five-year study specifically showed that a higher intake of vegetable fat increased the rate of progression of macular degeneration.
Evidence of enhanced progression was also evident with animal fats, but to a lesser extent.
Moreover, it found that diets rich in meat and dairy also heightened the risk of macular degeneration, but not as much as baked food.
Conversely, individuals who ate higher amounts of fish and nuts, reduced the risk of the disease progressing.
Other dark leafy foods can promote eye health because they are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are present in high concentrations in the retina.
How common is macular degeneration?
Though age-macular degeneration usually affects people over the age of 50, the condition can also strike earlier.
Current estimates suggest roughly 600,000 people in the country are affected, making it the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.
Symptoms are rare in the early stages, but once complications emerge they tend to include mild blurriness in central vision and difficulty seeing in low lighting.
These symptoms can become a major hindrance to a person’s daily life as they progress, making basic tasks like reading and driving impossible.
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