Diet Habits & Blindness

Dietary Habits & Blindness

Can the same dietary habits that protect against heart disease and cancer also slow the onset of untreatable blindness?

Possibly, according to a long-term study of eye health and diet, which found relatively few early signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among people who had eaten a low-fat diet ten years earlier.

AMD irreversibly destroys the light receptors in the center of the retina; in extreme cases, sufferers cannot read or recognize faces. The good news is that AMD virtually never leads to complete blindness. The bad news is that lost vision cannot be restored (although laser surgery can sometimes slow the destruction). AMD has blinded about 104,000 Americans, mainly the elderly.

Since the cause of AMD is unknown, any insights are welcome. “This is the first study to find a link between fat in the diet and AMD,” says Julie Mares-Perlman, assistant professor of ophthalmology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, who conducted the AMD study. “It raises the possibility that what we eat not only affects our chances of getting major, life-threatening illnesses, but also affects degenerative processes that can diminish our quality of life.”

SOURCE: National Institute for Science Education

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