Macular degeneration diet

Several studies suggest that increasing the consumption of foods rich in vitamin A, carotenes and other antioxidants; in particular dark green, leafy vegetables; may decrease the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration.

As part of the Eye Disease Case-Control Study, researchers compared blood levels of carotenes, vitamins C and E, and selenium in 421 patients with macular degeneration and 615 people without the disorder. The results showed that people with high carotenoid intakes had a lower risk of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration dietResults also showed that those with high intakes of all the antioxidants had significantly reduced risk of the disorder.

Macular degeneration diet: Carotenes

The carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, may also have protective effects. Lutein and zeaxanthin are constituents of the pigment of the eye. A low density of this pigment in the macula of the eye may increase the risk of the disorder, macular degeneration, possibly because it permits greater blue light damage.

In a study published in 1997, researchers at Florida International University in Miami tested the effects of 30 mg of lutein on eye pigment in two people for a period of 140 days. The results showed that 20 to 40 days after the people started taking the lutein supplement, the density of the pigment in their eyes started to increase. This amount of blue light reaching the vulnerable eye tissues that are damaged in macular degeneration was reduced by around 30 to 40 per cent.


Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, particularly in the retina and tissues, surrounding the macula. Zinc deficiency can lead to loss of eye function as several zinc-dependent enzymes play important roles in eye function. Levels of these enzymes decline with age. Zinc deficiency may contribute to macular degeneration of the central part of the retina. Results from the Beaver Dam Eye Study, published in 1996, suggest a link between low zinc intakes and risk of macular degeneration.


As part of the enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, selenium may be important in protecting the eye from oxidative damage. A recent study found an association between macular degeneration and low selenium levels.

Macular degeneration diet: What makes it worse?

• A high intake of sugar can promote aging of tissues by irreversibly attaching to and thereby changing body proteins. The cells of the retina are no exception to this phenomenon and may even be more susceptible to damage. Recommendation: Eliminate or sharply reduce your intake of sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and all products made from these substances.

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