For anyone who has eye problems or want to live the rest of their lives vision problem free, switching to the Mediterranean diet may be the way to go.
Researchers found that the fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil staples of the Mediterranean diet can help prevent blindness and combat age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Based on the findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that those who regularly consumed Mediterranean diet foods reduced their chance of getting AMD by as much as 26 percent. For those who are more susceptible to having AMD, the risk was cut by one-third.
"We examined the association of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and genetic susceptibility with progression to advanced AMD," the authors wrote in their study. "[We found that] adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet is linked to a lower risk of mortality and chronic disease."
Researchers studied the dietary habits of more than 2,500 participants then tracked them down for 13 years. Based on the volunteers' results, the team found that eating a diet rich in vegetables and oily fish helped the most in protecting the eyes from AMD.
This is because fruits, vegetables and oily fish have always been rich in antioxidants that prevent inflammation. Kale, in particular, is also rich in lutein, an antioxidant specifically associated with good eye health.
This is a potentially helpful find to concerned people because AMD has been recently defined by experts as the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
About 600,000 are affected by AMD induced blindness worldwide, a figure experts expect to increase in the future. AMD usually develops around 50 years old and results when blood vessels around the macula, a critical part of the eye that helps with picking up details, being to grow, leak fluid and eventually cause scarring that will cause the eye to have a black spot in the center of the visual field.
Right now, treatment options for AMD involve injecting medication at the back of the eyes to reduce blood vessel growth, but scientists are still looking for ways to prevent AMD.
"Eating a mixed healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is important for general and eye health, as is wearing quality sunglasses," advised the Royal National Institute for the Blind.