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Age-Related Macular Degeneration May Start Younger Than Previously Thought

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. While it was previously thought to be an illness that only occurred in later years, a recent study suggests that AMD may start as early as 35.

Participants in the study included 4,340 people between the ages of 35 and 74 who underwent a five-hour examination in 2007. In 2010, the participants were contacted by a computer-assisted telephone interview in order to assess which diseases and health problems they had developed in the intervening years. Finally, in 2012, the researchers conducted another extensive examination, similar to the five hour one conducted at the onset of the study.

The researchers found that 3.8% of the participants aged 35-44 years old had early stages of AMD. This number was higher than expected, as AMD is usually defined as a disease that occurs in people in their fifties or older.

When they examined incidences of AMD for all the participants in the study, they found that approximately 12% suffered from the illness.

Researchers from Mainz University Medical Centre conducted the study. It was published in the February 2014 issue of Graefes Archive for Clinical Experimental Opthalmology.

Previous studies suggest that supplements that contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may help slow the progression of AMD. Lutein and zeathanthin are the only carotenoids able to build macular pigment. Some good dietary sources of these carotenoids are egg yolk, corn, kiwi, grapes, spinach, zucchini and different types of squash.

If your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, or if you smoke cigarettes and/or regularly consume alcohol, you are at higher risk for developing AMD.

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