Here’s yet another reason to fill up the fruit bowl: A new study has shown that regularly eating oranges may provide protection against developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 55. In the early stages, this incurable condition causes wavy or blurred vision, but in the late states, it can cause blindness in the center of the visual field.
A Nutrition-Responsive Disorder. A large body of research has shown that diet plays a major role in the development and progression of AMD. Studies have found that nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamins C, E, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin can help reduce the risk of developing this debilitating eye disease and may slow its progression. A diet high in green, leafy vegetables has also been shown to delay or limit the development of AMD.
Drinking Water Really Does Reduce Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Risk
Women who get frequent UTIs can lower their risk by drinking five to six extra glasses of water each day, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. By studying 140 healthy women, researchers found that women who drank about 11 eight-ounce glasses of water each day had an average of 1.5 UTIs during the study, while those who drank about five glasses each day had an average of three UTIs. DM
Now a team of researchers from the Center for Vision Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Australia, has added oranges to the list.
Looking at Flavonoids. To assess the potential protective effects of flavonoids (plant compounds that are found in fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine, and tea), the team interviewed more than 2,000 Australian adults 50 years of age and older and followed them for 15 years. The researchers assessed participants’ dietary intake and estimated the flavonoid content of foods by using a U.S. Department of Agriculture database.
They discovered that people who reported eating at least one orange per day reduced their risk of developing AMD by more than 60 percent. “Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits,” noted lead researcher Bamini Gopinath, PhD, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Tea, apples, and red wine—all of which are rich in flavonoids—showed no protective effects.
A Science-Based Supplement. A research group at the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute developed an over-the-counter nutritional supplement, AREDS, that is based on findings from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, a major clinical trial that included 3,640 participants. The original AREDS formulation contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. A second formulation, AREDS2, has a lower level of zinc, no beta-carotene, and it includes lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids. The research group notes that while these formulations do not prevent AMD, they may delay progression of the disease and preserve vision longer. Your physician or eye doctor can help you choose which formulation best meets your needs.
What This Means for You. If you have a family history of AMD, adding an orange a day is a safe and tasty way to stack the odds in your favor, but oranges alone can’t protect your vision. Talk to your ophthalmologist about best practices to protect your eyes, and get a yearly check-up to catch any changes early.
THE VIEW FROM DUKE
Protect Your Eyes
“If you are 65 years and older, Caucasian, female, have light colored eyes, are a smoker, or have a positive family history of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you’re at risk of developing this eye disease. AMD affects your central, sharp vision, so when you look straight ahead, things look blurry and distorted. It makes it difficult to recognize faces and read, especially in dim light. The recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gives us the hope that there might be a new way to fight against this nasty disease: flavonoids from citrus fruit. The study suggested that the consumption of oranges (a key contributor to total flavonoids) was protective against the prevalence and incidence of late AMD. If you do not have them at home, get some oranges! In addition to vitamin C, they contain phytochemicals with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. And remember, what is good for the body is good for the eyes: Eat a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon), maintain a healthy weight, exercise, wear sunglasses, and avoid smoking. “
Majda Hadziahmetovic, MD,
Medical Instructor, Department of Ophthalmology,
Duke University School of Medicine
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