Mares Group

Our Work

Diet and Vision Study Participants – click here

Our Diet and Eye Health Team conducts research, teaching and community outreach directed toward improving relationships between food and health that supports healthy vision. We focus on eye health in older age, but are interested in approaches that sustainably contribute to overall general health and well-being of individuals of all ages and the communities in which we live.

The primary goal of our research is to evaluate relationships of diet and nutritional status to the onset and progression of eye diseases that become common in old age: cataract, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. We conduct studies in large population groups using epidemiological techniques in which foods eaten and lifestyles are compared in people whose eye photographs indicate that early stages of these conditions are present or absent.

We evaluate many interrelated aspects of diet and healthy lifestyles. We use a non-invasive flicker photometry test to evaluate levels of plant pigments (the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin) that accumulate in eye tissues and comprise macular pigment. We are currently investigating whether macular pigment density levels predict lower risk for age-related macular degeneration, vision loss and aging of the retina. We also study genetics, vitamin D status, physical activity and nutrient-rich diet patterns in relation to eye health.