"I tell my patients that fruit and vegetable consumption are very important for eye health -- this study validates that notion," said Dr. Paul Bernstein, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss, especially in the elderly.
It affects the macula, the center part of the retina, and can lead to declines in sharp central vision and even blindness, experts say.
Scientists have already linked a variety of factors to the condition including genetics, smoking and nutrition, said Bernstein
, who was not involved in the new study.
However, treatment for AMD
may be limited depending on the type of macular degeneration that a person develops, he
Lutein is found in eggs and dark leafy vegetables including broccoli, kale and spinach, Bernstein
Zeaxanthin is harder to find in the diet, he
said, but you can get it from corn, orange peppers and goji berries.
cautioned that the study has some weaknesses.
It's based on people's recollections of their diets, he
said, and doesn't examine the levels of the carotenoids that actually made it into their bodies and eyes.
praised the research.
Would carotenoid supplements help?
often recommends nutritional supplements to people with intermediate and advanced forms of macular degeneration, but it's not proven if they'll help people who may be at risk for the condition.
said, a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important, especially colorful vegetables.
Consume several servings a day, he
"The people who are only consuming two servings a day are the ones we worry about," Bernstein