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    Mediterranean diet may protect against macular degeneration


    The overall prevalence of AMD in combined populations was 11.22%, slightly less than what has been reported in other large studies including the Beaver Dam Eye Study, which reported a prevalence of 14.1%, the EUREYE Study (12.60%), and the Visual Impairment Project (15.1%).  However, it was slightly greater than some other studies, including the Blue Mountains Eye Study (5.8%) and the Rotterdam Study (7.5%).

    The Coimbra researchers wondered if people living along the coast might have different lifestyles affecting their risk of the disease. So they analysed records of diet for two sub-populations from their original survey, 449 with early AMD and 435 without early AMD from the two communities. 

    Related: Exploring oral dual anti-VEGF/PDGF inhibitor for AMD

    The two populations were similar in age, gender, education, body mass index, abdominal perimeter, and smoking status. However, there was a statistically significant difference in physical activity: the people with AMD exercised less than the people with AMD. Previous research has shown that exercise can reduce the risk of AMD.

    The investigators created a scale from 0 to 9, awarding each participant 1 point for consumption above the sex-specific median of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, and monounsaturated lipids; consumption below the sex-specific median of red meat and dairy products; consumption of 10–50 grams per day of alcohol for men or 5–25 grams per day for women.

    They found that 39.3% those who scored 6 or higher had early AMD, compared with 50.2% of those who scored below 6.

    More retina: Coin-sized retina scanner targets improved diagnosis

    Digging deeper into the data, they looked for differences in risk for each food group. They found that only consumption of fruit made a statistically significant difference; 54.5% of those without AMD ate less than 150 g a day, versus 45.5% of those with AMD (p=0.029). For reference, 150 g is about the weight of one apple.

    The consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, and fish were all higher in people without AMD, and the ratio of monounsaturated lipids to saturated lips was higher in this group. But these differences were not independently statistically significant.

    Role of caffine

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