Dietary fat intake and macular degeneration.




Archives of Ophthalmology

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Macular Degeneration
Professional Data: Macular Degeneration


Ophthalmologists can detect the presence of macular degeneration during a complete examination by observing the changes in and behind the retina. Small yellow clusters of deposits occur that can only be seen through an ophthalmoscope. Age related macular degeneration occurs in both eyes, is occasionally treatable, not preventable, and generally worsens over time. While some patients may have no symptoms, the symptoms most commonly seen include blurred central vision, decreased reading ability, especially in dim light, distortion in central vision, and trouble adapting to darkness. Macular degeneration occurs most often in patients over 50 years old.

Despite its prevalence there is a lot about macular degeneration that remains unclear. Researchers have implied that certain conditions may contribute to the disorder. Some of these are arteriosclerosis, oxidative damage, photic damage, inflammation, diet, vitamin and rare element deficiencies, and genetics. The genetic factors that are suspected in being involved are hard to quantify due to the fact that parents and siblings may not be alive, and children may be too young to display any symptoms that could be traced leading to the disease.

A recent study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology examined the role of dietary fats in the progression age-related macular degeneration. This study recruited 261 patients with some type of macular degeneration and all were 60 years or older. The researchers collected dietary fat intake data from these participants as well as the risk of advanced macular degeneration. The results showed that those with a high intake of all fats had a higher risk of progression of this disease. Vegetable, animal, saturated, unsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats all increased the risk of progression. However, fish oil and nut consumption was found to lower this risk. The authors concluded that, “Since advanced AMD is associated with visual loss and reduced quality of life, these preventive measures deserve additional research and greater emphasis.”1


1. Seddon JM, et al. Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Archives of Ophthalmology, 2003;121:1728-1737.