Diet plays an important role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but what specific foods patients should be eating to reduce their risk of developing the disease remains unclear.

To address this, a team of researchers from the Netherlands conducted a prospective, population-based cohort study of 4,202 patients at least 55 years old who did not have AMD at baseline. They found that a diet of 200g of vegetables per day, 2x fruit per day and 2x fish per week significantly reduces the risk of AMD.

AMD was graded with fundus photographs, dietary data was collected using a 170-item food frequency questionnaire and food intake was categorized into food patterns based on guidelines from Health Councils. Associations with AMD were then analyzed using Cox-proportional hazards models and adjusted for age, sex, total energy intake, smoking, body mass index, hypertension, education and income.

In total, 754 patients developed AMD. The researchers found that intake of the recommended amounts of vegetables (200g/day), fruit (2x/day) and fish (2x/week) was 30.6%, 54.9% and 12.5%, respectively, with fish playing a significant role in decreasing the risk of AMD. They note that consuming the recommended amounts of all three food groups was only 3.7%, but adherence to this pattern further reduced the risk of AMD. The team adds that younger age, higher income and nonsmoking were associated with this food pattern, but risk-lowering effects remained significant after adjusting for these factors.

De Koning-Backus APM, Buitendijk GHS, Kiefte-de Jong JC, et al. Intake of vegetables, fruit and fish is beneficial for age-related macular degeneration. Am J Ophthalmol. October 9, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].