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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

University at Buffalo: Study Finds Association Between Poor Diet, Age-related Macular Degeneration

Participants who ate a diet high in red and processed meat, fried food, refined grains and high-fat dairy were three times more likely to develop an eye condition that damages the retina and affects a person’s central vision, according to the results of a study from the University at Buffalo.

The condition, late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an irreversible condition that affects a person’s central vision, taking away their ability to drive, among other daily activities.

“Treatment for late, neovascular AMD is invasive and expensive, and there is no treatment for geographic atrophy, the other form of late AMD that also causes vision loss. It is in our best interest to catch this condition early and prevent development of late AMD,” said Ms. Shruti Dighe, who conducted the research as part of her master’s in epidemiology studies at University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Interestingly, a Western diet was not associated with development of early AMD in the study.

The authors studied the occurrence of early and late AMD over approximately 18 years of follow-up among participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. They used data on 66 different foods that participants self-reported consuming between 1987 and 1995 and identified two diet patterns — Western and what researchers refer to as “prudent” — that best explain the greatest variation between diets.

“We observed that people who had no AMD or early AMD at the start of our study and reported frequently consuming unhealthy foods were more likely to develop vison-threatening, late stage disease approximately 18 years later,” said study senior author Dr. Amy Millen, associate professor and associate chair of epidemiology and environmental health at UB.

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