Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 21, 2017
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The eyes have it

Our aging population is suffering from a decreased quality of life because of changes to their eyesight. Diet can play a significant role in preventing the development of eye diseases.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

A study published in 2011 showed that when people with a genetic predisposition to AMD consumed a nutrient-dense diet, the incidence of AMD was reduced.1 The genetic variant CFH Y402H seemed to be more reactive to the intake of zinc, lutein/zeaxanthin, and EPA/DHA, while the LOC387715 A69S genetic variant seemed to be more responsive to zinc and EPA/DHA. Another study published last year showed that women who scored the highest on the 2005 Healthy Eating Index had 46 percent lower odds for developing early AMD.2 This study also looked at physical activity and found that woman who had the highest levels of physical activity also had a 54 percent decrease in their chances of developing AMD. Healthy diet, physical activity and not smoking provided the most benefit, with 71 percent lower odds of developing AMD.

Cataracts

There is also some convincing evidence that consuming a healthy diet can impact the incidence of cataracts.3 The diet of a group of women aged 50 to 79 participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study was evaluated and compared to the 1995 Healthy Eating Index (an indication of compliance to the 1990 US dietary guidelines). This study found that women with the highest scores on the 1995 Healthy Eating Index had the lowest incidence of cataracts. There was no relationship between the use of vitamin supplements and the incidence of cataracts.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

A new study suggests that diet can play a role in the development of retinitis pigmintosa.4 This study looks at the dietary intakes of 357 individuals already participating in clinical trials and all receiving 15,000 IU of Vitamin A daily. The nutrient intake was calculated from questionnaires filled out by the participants. This study found that those with the highest intake of Omega-3 fatty acids had the slowest progression of the disease.

Diabetic Retinopathy

A recent study from France suggests that the HbA1c levels and fasting glucose levels from the preceding 10 years are the best predictors of the development of retinopathy.5 The authors of the study found that people with retinopathy had higher HbA1c and a higher level of fasting blood glucose 10 years before being diagnosed. They are suggesting that fasting blood glucose levels of 5.9 mmol/l (108 mg / dl) and HbA1c of 6.0 percent could be used as a method of predicting the development of retinopathy.

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