Correlation Between the Mediterranean Diet and age-related Macular Degeneration

By Mariam Malik ‘22

med-diet.jpg

Figure 1. IMediterranean diets have numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of Macular Degeneration.

The human eye’s abilities are often taken granted. Currently, roughly 1.8 million Americans are affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness. AMD directly affects the eye’s central vision, which is vital in individuals’ abilities to see faces and read. Researchers from the European Union have collected and analyzed data that links the Mediterranean Diet to reductions in the risk of developing AMD.

The Mediterranean diet consists of eating mostly fish, legumes, and unrefined grains as the body’s source of protein, along with large quantities of fruits and vegetables. Two studies were conducted: the Rotterdam study and the Alienor study. The Rotterdam study looked at the risk of the disease in individuals age 55 or older. The study ran for 21-years, and questionnaires were completed every 5 years. The Alienor study, however, looked at the connection between eye disease and different aspects of nutrition for people ages 73 and older. These subjects were examined every 2 years for 4 years. Researchers then examined nearly 5,000 of these subjects and discovered that the subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet had a 41% lower chance of developing AMD than the subjects who did not. A key takeaway from the experiment was that all elements of the diet contributed to the lower risk of developing AMD, not just eating fish or just fruits and vegetables. The entire diet is needed in order to reduce one’s risk of AMD.

Poor eating habits are the foundation of many diseases, such as obesity, dementia, and AMD, per Emily Chew, M.D. The Mediterranean diet is an opportunity to not only reduce one’s risk of AMD, but many other diseases as well.

 

References

  1. B. Merle, et. al., Mediterranean diet and incidence of advanced age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.08.006  
  2. Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DIETA_MEDITERRANEA_ITALIA.JPG
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