Maintaining a healthy diet and developing good eating habits
Developing healthy eating habits can help you maintain an appropriate weight and contribute to your overall mental and physical wellbeing, as you manage wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD). Below are some healthy nutrition choices that you can introduce into your day-to-day eating habits. Make modifications based on your doctor’s advice where possible.
- Include healthy nutrients in your meals. Studies suggest that some nutrients found in certain foods may benefit eye health, such as1,2:
o Vitamin C found in citrus fruits
o Lutein found in broccoli, kale and spinach
o Fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna
Include these healthy foods in your diet when possible. Try to make your plate colourful to help you add a variety of vegetables, like bright bell peppers and leafy greens, to your diet.
- Consider a Mediterranean Diet. Adhering to a Mediterranean Diet has also been shown to reduce risk of advanced wet macular degeneration3,4,5,6, cardiovascular disease and cancer.7,8 One study suggested that sticking to this diet could reduce risk for advanced wet macular degeneration by up to 41%.3 This type of diet traditionally includes:7,9
o High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, and cereals
o High intake of olive oil but a low intake of saturated lipids
o Moderately high intake of fish
o Low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (such as cheese and yogurt)
o Low intake of meat and poultry
o A regular but moderate intake of ethanol, primarily in the form of wine and generally during meals
- Avoid artificial fats and processed foods as much as possible. Try cooking meals at home rather than eating out. Pack some snacks and take them with you when travelling or away from home for a long day so that you don’t have to buy processed foods while out.
- Avoid too much sugar. Replace soda or juice with sparkling water or unsweetened tea. Make sure to read labels on food and beverage containers—some foods are higher in sugar than you might suspect. While an occasional sugary drink or dessert is fine, reducing overall sugar intake can help you maintain a balanced diet.
- Check your body mass index (BMI). If you’re unsure if your weight is healthy, check if your BMI falls into the healthy, overweight or obese category. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.10 You can calculate your BMI with a variety of online BMI calculators. Remember the BMI is just an estimate—be sure to consult a doctor about what a healthy BMI looks like for you.
Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Nutrients for the aging eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741-748.
Carneiro A, Andrade JP. Nutritional and lifestyle interventions for age-related macular degeneration: a review. Ox Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:2435963.
Merle BMJ, Colijn JM, Cougnard-Grégoire A, de Koning-Backus APM, Delyfer MN, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Meester-Smoor M, Féart C, Verzijden T, Samieri C, Franco OH, Korobelnik JF, Klaver CCW, Delcourt C; EYE-RISK Consortium. Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration: The EYE-RISK Consortium. Ophthalmology. 2019 Mar;126(3):381-390
Keenan TD, Agrón E, Mares J, Clemons TE, van Asten F, Swaroop A, Chew EY; Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) 1 and 2 Research Groups. Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Progression to Late Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 1 and 2. Ophthalmology. 2020 Nov;127(11):1515-1528.
Mares JA, Voland RP, Sondel SA, et al. Healthy lifestyles related to subsequent prevalence of age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(4):470-480.
Nunes S, Alves D, Barreto P, Raimundo M, da Luz Cachulo M, Farinha C, Laíns I, Rodrigues J, Almeida C, Ribeiro L, Figueira J, Santos L, Silva R. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and its association with age-related macular degeneration. The Coimbra Eye Study-Report 4. Nutrition. 2018 Jul-Aug;51-52:6-12.
Trichopoulou A, Costacou T, Bamia C, Trichopoulos D. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population. New England Journal of Medicine. 2003;348(26):2599-2608.
Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. New England Journal of Medicine. 2018;378(25):e34.
Willett WC, Sacks F, Trichopoulou A, Drescher G, Ferro-Luzzi A, Helsing E, Trichopoulos D. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1402S-1406S.
Gallagher D, Heymsfield SB, Heo M, et al. Healthy percentage body fat ranges: an approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(3):694-701.