Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is widespread. Up to 11 million people in the United States have age-related macular degeneration in some form. Millions more have the condition worldwide and that number is only expected to grow in the future. The risk of developing AMD increases with age and is most common in Caucasian Americans, affecting 14% of that group who are aged 80 or older.

What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

It’s not known exactly what causes age-related macular degeneration to occur. It’s a common condition in those over the age of 50.

There are some factors that can increase the risk of developing AMD:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Smoking

How Does Diet Affect the Risk of AMD?

Research has found that eating diets heavy in fatty foods and in red meat could increase someone’s chances of developing age-related macular degeneration. People eating diets high in fatty foods and red meats were three times more at risk for developing AMD.

How Did the Research Study Work?

The study included 1300 participants from all across the United States and took place over eighteen years. In the study, the researchers divided a variety of foods into 29 different categories in order to determine the quality of each participant’s diet. The researchers then monitored the participants over the course of those eighteen years and tracked the diets of each to determine which diet groups had the highest rate of AMD.

What Foods Increase the Risk of AMD?

The study found that the participants who ate Western diets were more likely to have age-related macular degeneration. The foods that have the most risk are:

  • Red meats
  • Processed meats
  • Fried foods
  • Butter and margarine
  • High-fat dairy products

Can Eating Healthy Reduce the Risk of AMD?

Amy Millen, the lead author of the study, said that of the risk factors involved with AMD, the diet could be modified. It’s possible that modifying your diet to eliminate the foods most closely associated with increased risk of AMD could decrease the risk. However, the study was only observational and didn’t prove that changing your diet could definitively reduce the risk.

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