IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Vitamin-rich diet may cut risk of vision malady

A vitamin-rich diet can lower the risk of contracting macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly in developed countries, researchers said on Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

A vitamin-rich diet lowers the risk of contracting macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly in developed countries, researchers said on Tuesday.

The antioxidant properties of Vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and zinc were found to ward off macular degeneration, in which abnormal blood cells grow in the eye and leak blood and fluid that damages the center of the retina and blurs central vision.

Sufferers are often debilitated and unable to read, recognize faces or drive, and the condition worsens with age. It affects more than one out of 10 white adults over the age 80, and is the leading cause of severe vision loss in Americans 60 and older.

There is no cure, although an earlier study found taking high doses of vitamin supplements could slow the condition's progression.

The eight-year study involved more than 4,000 older residents of Rotterdam, Netherlands. It found that those whose diets included more than the median levels of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc had a 35-percent lower risk of developing macular degeneration, compared with those whose diet provided a below-median level of any of the four nutrients.

Participants with a below-median consumption of all four of the nutrients had a 20-percent higher risk of macular degeneration.

"This study suggests that the risk of age-related macular degeneration can be modified by diet; in particular, by dietary vitamin E and zinc," wrote lead author Dr. Redmer van Leeuwen of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.

"Foods high in these nutrients appear to be more important than nutritional supplements," he added in the report, published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Foods rich in vitamin E include whole grains, vegetable oil, eggs, and nuts, the report said. High concentrations of zinc can be found in meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, and dairy products. Carrots, kale, and spinach are the main suppliers of beta carotene, while vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, broccoli, and potatoes.