HealthDay News — Eating a Mediterranean diet and consuming caffeine may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held from Oct. 15 to 18 in Chicago.
Using questionnaires, researchers assessed the diets of 883 people, aged 55 and older, in Portugal. Of those, 449 had early-stage AMD and 434 did not have the condition.
Closely following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of AMD, and eating lots of fruit was especially beneficial. The researchers also found that people who consumed high levels of caffeine seemed to have a lower risk of AMD. Among those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 mg a day, or the equivalent of one shot of espresso), 54.4 percent did not have AMD and 45.1 percent had the condition. The researchers said they looked at caffeine consumption because it’s an antioxidant known to protect against other health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration,” lead author Rufino Silva, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, said in a news release from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “We also think this work is a stepping stone towards effective preventive medicine in AMD.”