Macular degeneration, commonly known as age-related macular degeneration, is a medical condition of the eye in which the macula of the eye (center part of the retina), the area attributed to sharp and central vision, is irreversibly damaged. According to the US National Eye Institute, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly population. Individuals ages 50 years and above are usually affected by this condition. The symptoms of macular degeneration include a blurring of vision, appearance of blind spots in the vision, and objects appearing less bright than usual. There are two types of macular degeneration; wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.
Though macular degeneration is an age-related medical condition, it has been understood that it can be delayed by consumption of certain food items. The Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database has acknowledged that nutrients like beta-carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc significantly reduce the worsening of age-related macular degeneration. In a randomized clinical trial conducted on 6150 patients with macular degeneration, it was observed that an intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals supplements slows down the progression of age-related macular degeneration . It was seen that the antioxidant property of beta carotenes and vitamin A, C, and E help to reduce the oxidative stress on the macula of the eye, hence improving the macular health.
The beta-carotene and vitamin A enriched food products that include vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, turnip, mustard, tomatoes, yam, parsley, spinach, and dark lettuce, herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, and mint, as well as fruits like apricots, peaches, yellow oranges, mangos, guavas, papayas, and watermelons should be included in the diet to prevent macular degeneration .
Vitamin C andVitamin E are the strong antioxidants that help to reduce the progress of macular degeneration. Food products like citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, fish, nuts, tofu, sunflower seeds, and olives are enriched with these vitamins.
The American Optometrist Association has identified the association of micro-nutrients like Lutenin and Zeaxanthin in promoting macular health . These micronutrients get deposited on the macula of the eye and protect it from the damaging effects of blue wavelength. These micronutrients are found in Gac fruit, egg yolks, and tomatoes. Other than these nutrients, it was observed that people with a high level of blood cholesterol have a high risk of developing macular degeneration. Therefore, it is essential that one should follow low-fat and low- cholesterol diets to prevent macular degeneration. In a study conducted on the association of vitamin D with macular degeneration in postmenopausal women, it was shown that there is a low incidence of macular degeneration in postmenopausal women who have a high level of vitamin D, hence food products like milk and milk products, vitamin D fortified food, eggs, and mushrooms are also helpful in lowering the risk of macular degeneration . Though there isn’t any clinical evidence present, it was seen that green tea and black tea significantly reduced the growth of blood vessels behind the eye, thereby reducing the chances of developing wet macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a condition that cannot be avoided or prevented by consuming any particular food products. But it is seen that consuming all of the discussed food products can reduce the progression and worsening of this condition to the advanced stage.