Consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil, seeds, fish, low saturated fat, dairy products and red meat can help prevent potential blindness in later stages of life, a study has found.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
It causes loss of central vision, which is crucial for simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, and write.
In analysing the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD, researchers from the European Union found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 per cent.
The findings, published in the journal Ophthalmology, expands on previous studies and suggests that such a diet is beneficial for everyone, whether you already have the disease or are at risk of developing it.
“I believe this is a public health issue on the same scale as smoking. Chronic diseases such as AMD, dementia, obesity, and diabetes, all have roots in poor dietary habits. It’s time to take quitting a poor diet as seriously as quitting smoking,” said Emily Chew, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Previous research has linked Mediterranean diet to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline.
For the new study, the team analysed food-frequency questionnaires from nearly 5,000 people who participated in two investigations focused separately on disease risks in people aged 55 and older and the links between eye diseases and nutritional factors in people aged 73 and older.
The entire pattern of eating a nutrient-rich diet, instead of individual food varieties such as fish, fruits and vegetables, helps significantly curb the risk of late AMD, the researchers noted. (IANS)
"It can be advised to consult an expert and take up a cessation programme to quit smoking. Other than this, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and including a range of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, that have antioxidants can help maintain retinal health," Narayanan said.
Do you smoke cigarettes? Think twice before taking another drag as it may not only damage your heart or lungs but can also make you blind, experts say.
Smoking harms the retina — the light-sensing tissue in the back of the eyes, responsible for transmitting images to the brain.
“It’s like a film of a camera which converts light rays into impulses which help us see,” Raja Narayanan, Head of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad told IANS.
“Smoking increases the chemical compounds in the bloodstream thereby reducing blood and oxygen flow to the retina. This makes smokers two times more susceptible to Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD),” Narayanan added.
A recent study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, indicated significant changes in the smokers’ red-green and blue-yellow colour vision, which suggested that consuming substances with neurotoxic chemicals, such as those in cigarettes, may cause overall colour vision loss.
Smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of various diseases and premature deaths worldwide.
India was among the top 10 countries together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s smokers (63.6 per cent) in 2015, according to a Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet in 2017.
Smoking can further affect a bunch of eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma etc. While diseases related to the front of the eye are easily recognised, retinal diseases like AMD and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) might develop silently and lead to progressive vision loss if not treated on time.
“The vision loss caused by retinal diseases cannot be reversed. However, if the condition is diagnosed on time the disease can be managed effectively to prevent further loss of vision. Recognition of symptom is a key aspect for timely diagnosis,” Ajay Dudani, Ophthalmologist/Eye and Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Mumbai Retina Centre, told IANS.
“The symptoms of these retinal diseases are often confused with those of old age or other eye disorders which leads to delayed diagnosis,” he added.
People with diabetes need to be extra cautious of any vision changes and need to follow a healthy lifestyle as they are more susceptible to diabetic retinopathy.
“Today, there are treatment options available that can slow or halt disease progression. Some of the treatment options available in India include laser photocoagulation, anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) injections and combination therapy which includes laser and anti-VEGF treatment,” Dudani asserted.
According to experts, owing to an unhealthy lifestyle, dietary habits and constant stress and exposure to digital screens, the incidence of retinal diseases and other eye disorders is rising amongst the working population.
They say that a cessation programme can help an individual quit smoking.
“It can be advised to consult an expert and take up a cessation programme to quit smoking. Other than this, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and including a range of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, that have antioxidants can help maintain retinal health,” Narayanan said.
“Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce etc. have lutein and zeaxanthin – both important nutrients for eye health. Certain vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A also help in overall eye health and help prevent the progression of AMD and DME,” he noted. (IANS)