Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil, seeds, fish, low saturated fat, dairy products, and red meat can help prevent potential blindness in later stages of life, a study has found.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease and a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and above.

It causes loss of central vision, which is crucial for simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, and write.

The entire pattern of eating a nutrient-rich diet, instead of individual food varieties such as fish, fruits and vegetables, helps significantly curb the risk of late AMD, the researchers noted.

In analysing the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD, researchers from the European Union found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 per cent.

The findings, published in the journal Ophthalmology, expand on previous studies and suggest that such a diet is beneficial for everyone, whether you already have the disease or are at risk of developing it.

“I believe this is a public health issue on the same scale as smoking. Chronic diseases such as AMD, dementia, obesity, and diabetes, all have roots in poor dietary habits. It’s time to take quitting a poor diet as seriously as quitting smoking,” said Emily Chew, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Previous research has linked Mediterranean diet to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline.

For the new study, the team analysed food-frequency questionnaires from nearly 5,000 people who participated in two investigations focused separately on disease risks in people aged 55 and older and the links between eye diseases and nutritional factors in people aged 73 and older.

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