Seeing into the Future

October 19, 2011

Macular Degeneration is an incurable eye disease, it is the leading cause of vision loss for those aged 55 and older in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans. There is good news!  You can reduce your chances of developing this disease through diet and physical fitness! A new study discovered two nutrients found in eggs, spinach and other leafy green vegetables can help protect against macular degeneration. Researchers followed more than 45 hundred people aged 60 to 80. Those who ate foods full of the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin had a 35 percent less chance of developing macular degneration. Additional research indicates that diet can help slow macular degeneration in people with a genetic susceptibility to the disease.  Netherlands researchers reviewed the eating habits of more than 2,000 participants age 55 and older. They were then tested for the macular degeneration susceptibility genes, which increase chances by up to 15 times. Participants were given eye exams every three years over a 10-year period to evaluate vision loss. The researchers found that those who ate increased levels of zinc, antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids decreased their risk of developing the disease by a third, as compared with student participants who ate lower levels of these nutrients. Researchers are also looking at the affects of physical activity on macular degeneration. A study looked at the link between running and aged-related macular degeneration and found that those who run between 1.2 and 2.4 miles each day experience a 19% reduced risk, compared to those who covered less than 1.2 miles each day, while the decrease in risk for those whose daily mileage was over 2.4 miles was between 42% and 54%. Another risk factor for degenerative eye disease is smoking. A study published a few years ago in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that smoking raised one's risk of developing age-related macular degeneration; it was also revealed that more smoking translated to higher risk. Protecting your eye health now will help ensure your ability long into the future!

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