Some good news today for people who enjoy a Mediterranean style diet. A Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) study has found that people who eat at least 100 mls, about seven tablespoons, of olive oil per week are almost 50 per cent less likely to develop late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), than those who eat less than 1 ml per week.
The study also found that people who eat other foods rich in omega-3 fatty-acids, such as fish and nuts, are 15 per cent less likely to develop early AMD.
CERA is affiliated with the University of Melbourne and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, where it is based.
Report author Dr Elaine Chong from CERA, says olive oil contains a number of protective elements that contribute to eye health.
“Olive oil is rich in powerful antioxidants like vitamin E. It also contains an anti-inflammatory component, similar to ibuprofen, which helps protect the blood vessels in the eye,” said Dr Chong.
“A diet rich in olive oil and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish varieties like salmon and tuna, and nuts may help protect your eyes against diseases such as AMD.”
With limited treatment options for AMD, researchers say a better understanding of the modifiable risk factors associated with AMD could significantly reduce vision loss from the disease. Risk factors for AMD include age, genetics and smoking, with smoking being the only consistently reported modifiable risk factor.
“This study establishes a link between the intake of both good and bad fats, and the implications for AMD development,” said Dr Chong.
Half a million Australians live with the early stages of AMD, a progressive disease affecting the central area of the retina called the macula.
Source: Centre for Eye Research Australia