An unhealthy diet composed of mostly high-sugar or deep-fried foods could triple the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a US study has suggested.
“A threefold higher incidence of late AMD was observed among participants with a Western pattern score above, as compared with below, the median,” the study said.
The study, conducted by a research team from the State University of New York, identified “Western” (unhealthy) and “prudent” (healthy) dietary patterns after examining the lifestyles and medical records of 15,000 participants.
A “Western” diet is characterized by more consumption of red meat, deep-fried food, desserts, eggs, refined grains, high-fat dairy products and sweetened beverages, whereas a “prudent” diet is not, it said.
Although no significant associations were observed between either dietary pattern and early AMD, a “Western” pattern could triple the risk of late AMD, it said, adding that balanced nutrition could improve people’s immune systems and reduce the risk of oxidizing reactions caused by retinal inflammation.
Taipei Veterans General Hospital ophthalmologist Chiou Shih-hwa (邱士華) said that 15 percent of Taiwanese over the age of 65 develop AMD, which causes retinal degeneration and irreversible vision loss.
Past research had identified a link between unhealthy diets and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol, which causes blood vessel impairment around the eyes, Chiou said.
More research is needed to determine the association between diet and AMD, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital deputy dean Lai Chi-chun (賴旗俊) said, adding that most research links the condition to smoking, genetics, hypertension, aging and exposure to strong light.
The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
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