Nutrition and vision

Medical content revised by - Last revision 24/10/2016
Nutrition and vision

Scientists have proven that nutrition, lifestyle and environment (climate and environmental factors) have a huge impact on health. Mediterranean diet reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure and risk of diabetes.

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age Related Macular Degeneration is a very common disease whose main risk factor is advanced age. ARMD is the most common cause of vision loss in developed countries among people over 65 years old. It is characterized by the appearance of progressive and degenerative alterations in the macular area (the central part of the retina).

How is it linked to nutrition?

It is believed that, in addition to genetic predisposition, there are various environmental factors that have a significant role in the disease:

  • The relative risk of ARMD is 2–3 times higher in smokers when compared to non-smokers.
  • The protective effect of antioxidants has been proved by multiples studies. Some of these substances are found in food. In recent years, several studies have shown that changes in diet and the administration of certain substances can affect the incidence and severity of disease.
  • Obesity and an unbalanced diet can contribute to the development of ARMD.
  • The ingestion of high doses of vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and zinc supplements during the progression of the disease slows down ARMD up to a 25%, both in its dry form and wet form.

Can we prevent it with good nutrition?

There are also several epistemological studies that suggest that a high ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower incidence of ARMD, while saturated fat intake seems to increase it. The omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are considered essential in our diet. The most important source of it is fish, mainly blue fish like sardine, tuna, mackerel, salmon, salted and white anchovies.

Other antioxidants are zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E. Zinc is present at high concentrations in the retina and also in other parts of the body, like in our hair and nails. Protein-rich foods contain large amounts of zinc, for example, red meat. Nuts, vegetables and yeast are other important zinc sources.

  • Vitamin C is one of the many nutrients that act as an antioxidant. Citrus fruits are its main source. Other fruits, such as kiwimelonstrawberriesmango and peach, and vegetables like asparagus, broccolibrussel sprouts and cauliflower, also contain high amounts of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin E also helps eliminate free radicals. In addition, it has a beneficial effect on the immune system. This vitamin can be found in sunflower seeds, almondshazelnuts and spinach.

Current preventive treatments aim to recover the balance between oxidizing substances and antioxidant substances. That’s why it is so important to follow a healthy diet with a high consumption of fishvegetablesfresh fruit and nuts.

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