Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) is associated with a reduced risk for incident advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study recently published in Ophthalmology

Bénédicte M. J. Merle, Ph.D., from the Université de Bordeaux in France, and colleagues examined correlations between adherence to the MeDi and incidence of advanced AMD in two European population-based prospective cohorts: the Rotterdam Study I (RS-I; 4,446 participants aged 55 years or older) and the Antioxydants, Lipides Essentiels, Nutrition et Maladies Oculaires (Alienor) Study (550 participants aged 73 years and older).

Examinations were performed approximately every 5 years over a 21-year period (1990–2011) in RS-I and every 2 years over a 4-year period (2006–2012) in the Alienor Study.

Adherence to the MeDi was evaluated using a 9-component score based on intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, fish, meat, dairy products, alcohol, and the monounsaturated-to-saturated fatty acids ratio. Associations of incidence of AMD with MeDi were estimated using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models.

The Mediterranean diet

The researchers found that 155 participants demonstrated advanced incident AMD (117 from the RS-I and 38 from the Alienor Study). Participants with a high MeDi score showed a significantly reduced risk for incident advanced AMD versus participants with a low score (range, 6 to 9 versus 0 to 3) in the fully adjusted model using data for both the RS-I and Alienor Study (hazard ratio, 0.59).

Pooling data from the RS-I and Alienor Study, higher adherence to the MeDi was associated with a 41% reduced risk of incident advanced AMD. These findings support the role of a diet rich in healthful nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish in the prevention of AMD.

"These findings support the role of a diet rich in healthful nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish in the prevention of AMD," the authors write. Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.