Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly, and it affects more than 10 million Americans age 55 and older, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. A recent study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine looked to see if an antioxidant-rich diet would help sufferers ward of the condition for longer, and the results were surprising.
To test this, researchers studied mice because they are prone to developing retinal damage in old age in a similar fashion to humans. The mice were broken up into three groups, one ate a diet rich in grapes, a second group ate a diet with added lutein – a pigment found in plants known to support eye health, and the third group consumed a normal diet.
From the data, scientists found that the mice who ate the grapes were the most protected against the effects of AMD. The grapes worked to shield the mice's eyes against oxidative damage of the retina and prevented blindness as well. The mice who ate a diet with added lutein also had benefits, though the grapes were far superior in providing overall protection.
AMD is a progressive condition that ultimately leads to blindness. Poor eyesight can be detrimental to a person's overall health, and seniors living alone may suffer dangerous falls without good eyesight. Those aging in place may want to start eating more grapes to ward off AMD and install a senior alert system to be able to call for help in case of a fall.