COMMENTARY

Diet and Exercise Can Stave Off Age-Related Macular Degeneration

John P. Brach, MD; Sophie J. Bakri, MD

Disclosures

April 24, 2012

Healthy Lifestyles Related to Subsequent Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Healthy Lifestyles Related to Subsequent Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Mares JA, Voland RP, Sondel SA, et al
Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129:470-480

Study Summary and Viewpoint

Data on diet, physical activity, and smoking history were collected from 1325 participants in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (a subset of the Women's Health Initiative Observation Study). This study includes the first estimates of associations among age-related macular degeneration (AMD), current US dietary guidelines, and physical activity.

The clinical implications of this study are substantial for both physicians and patients, because it provides evidence that a healthy lifestyle influences long-term preservation of vision. The findings indicate that patients should be counseled on the importance of following the US Dietary Guidelines along with maintaining a regimen of daily physical activity.

Smoking history is also an important modifiable risk factor for AMD, and this study found that women aged 50-69 years with fewer pack-years of smoking, healthier diets (as assessed by the modified Healthy Eating Index), and frequent physical activity had 3-fold lower odds of early AMD over a 6-year period. Of interest, frequency and not intensity of physical activity was more inversely related to prevalence of early AMD. Body weight, other than extreme obesity, was not significantly associated with prevalence of AMD.

Generalization of these data is limited because only women were included, the proportion of white patients was high, and participants generally were of high socioeconomic status. Genetic predisposition to AMD and its interplay with lifestyle could not be assessed.

AMD is associated with significant patient morbidity and financial burden, and its prevention is paramount. By following the US Dietary Guidelines, exercising daily, and avoiding smoking, patients can significantly reduce their risk for AMD.

Abstract

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