Cataracts and Macular Degeneration: Could You Be At Greater Risk Because of What You Eat?

October 30, 2012

Studies show that reducing carbohydrate intake, lowering fat in the diet and increasing both exercise and the consumption of fruits and veggies lowers our risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to reduce your risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration?  According to Opthalmology Management Magazine, there are certain preventative measures that can be taken by everyone to reduce the possibility of these common eye diseases from occurring in the first place.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye, which can cause foggy or blurry vision.  It can also cause sensitivity to light, double vision, diminished night vision, and many other symptoms.  Cataracts are known to develop slowly over time, and they tend to develop in both eyes.
Macular degeneration is a condition commonly associated with age.  Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss in individuals fifty and over, and it occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina begin to harden, which deprives sensitive retinal tissue of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to properly function.
An Oxford study demonstrated that there was a significant relationship between diet and the incidence of cataracts.  With a study of 27,670 participants, it was found that both vegetarians and vegans had a 30-40% reduction in cataracts when compared with meat eaters.  A different study, conducted by the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project, showed that cataracts were significantly associated with individual’s total carbohydrate intake.  A third study showed that women who ate diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat demonstrated a 37% lower incidence of cataracts.  In addition to these, there are many other studies demonstrating similar results.
A CAREDS study showed similar connections, where women with diets highest in fruits and vegetables showed a 46% reduction in odds for AMD, and those who exercised the most demonstrated a twofold decrease in risk.  Even more striking was individuals who are nonsmokers, ate healthy diets, and were the most active reduced their risk for AMD  by 71%!
So, what does this mean for us, you may ask?  By making simple lifestyle changes, including eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in both fats and carbohydrates, our risk for developing both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can be greatly reduced.  In addition to eating healthy, reduction in smoking and avoiding obesity may substantially reduce their incidences.  If you are contemplating what to make for dinner tonight, or wondering what kind of a snack to make yourself, we urge you to think about your eyes, and choose something beneficial!