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Diet, Exercise, Smoking Habits and Genes Interact to Affect AMD Risk

People with a genetic predisposition for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) significantly increased their odds of developing the blinding eye disorder if they had a history of heavy smoking and consistently did not exercise or eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to an observational study of women funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Eating a healthy diet and getting exercise have been shown in earlier studies to protect against AMD, a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Findings from this latest study, conducted by a team of investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggest that genetic and lifestyle factors may contribute to AMD in a synergistic way. The findings were published online in the journal Ophthalmology.

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Eye vitamins – nutrients that may help save your sight

More than 150 million Americans use glasses or contacts to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, according to a report from the eye health organization Prevent Blindness America. And the prevalence of blindness and sight problems increases with age. In people over age 40, the most common diseases include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Studies over the last few decades suggest that people whose diets are high in specific antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, zinc, or carotenoid plant pigments such as beta-carotene or lutein are less likely to develop common age-related eye diseases.


Continue to read the full article from an interview with Prof. Julie Mares, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, UW- Madison that was published in Chicago Tribune on May 30th 2012

How Good Nutrition Cuts Health Care Costs

Epidemiological studies, including many right here in Wisconsin, suggest we can markedly modify risk for cataracts and AMD by avoiding smoking and eating nutrient-rich diets. Two such studies indicate that even modestly above-average diets halve the likelihood of getting the most common type of cataract. Other recent studies suggest that physical activity cuts the risk of AMD; the impact of combining lifestyle changes could be dramatic.

Please read Dr. Julie Mares’ article in the Capitol Times here!

Diet and Eye Health in the MinnPost

“Women who have an overall healthy lifestyle — who eat lots of fruits and vegetables (and other healthful foods), exercise regularly and don’t smoke — may be at significantly reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a study published Monday in the Archives of Ophthalmology has found.

In fact, the combination of those healthy lifestyle behaviors lowered the relative risk of AMD among the women studied by 71 percent — much more than did any one of those behaviors by itself.

That’s a key take-home message of this study. “People want to isolate and find the magic bullet, the one thing that we should change,” said Julie Mares, the study’s lead author and a nutrition professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, in a phone interview last week. “But I think we could be misunderstanding the importance of overall healthy lifestyles if we only look at each factor alone.”

Please read Susan Perry’s article in its entirety here!