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Unhealthy diet may contribute to vision loss later in life, researchers say

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Buffalo, NY — Are fast-food burgers and sweet treats a regular part of your diet? If so, you may be putting yourself at risk for late-stage age-related macular degeneration – a leading cause of vision loss in people older than 60 – according to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

AMD occurs in the retina and can cause loss of central vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology states on its website.

The researchers looked at the occurrence of early and late AMD among participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study over 18 years of follow-up. A food-frequency questionnaire was used “to identify 29 food groups,” the study abstract states.

Participants who ate an unhealthy diet, also referred to as a Western dietary pattern, were three times more likely to experience late-stage AMD than those who ate healthier. A Western diet includes high consumption of red and processed meat, fried food, refined grains, and high-fat dairy, according to a Dec. 10 press release from UB.

“Our work provides additional evidence that that diet matters,” senior study author Amy Millen, associate professor and associate chair of epidemiology and environmental health at UB, said in the release. “From a public health standpoint, we can tell people that if you have early AMD, it is likely in your best interest to limit your intake of processed meat, fried food, refined grains and high-fat dairy to preserve your vision over time.”

The study was published online Dec. 6 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

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