Nutrition and the aging retina: A comprehensive review of the relationship between nutrients and their role in age-related macular degeneration and retina disease prevention.
Adv Food Nutr Res. 2020 ;93:293-332. Epub 2020 May 4. PMID: 32711865
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in developed countries and is highly common among aging individuals. Considering the rate at which the global population is aging, the increasing prevalence of AMD and age-related eye disease is cause for concern. AMD is associated with the degeneration of the macula, the most central region of the retina, leading to a loss of central vision. A wide array of research has focused on the ability of lipid soluble nutrients to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of AMD. These nutrients in question tend to be highly saturated within retinal tissues including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin and the polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Additionally, the unique presence of very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLCPUFAs, C24-C36) in the retina may be essential to prevent retinal degeneration as demonstrated by abnormal retinal functioning in the absence of these novel fatty acids. Existing literature has suggested that lutein, zeaxanthin and DHA consumption tend to enhance the health of the retina, protecting against the development of AMD. However, little improvement to the previously deteriorated retina is demonstrated and more research is required to understand the role of these nutrients in the retina and for the prevention of AMD. Considering the global impact of AMD and age-related eye disease, utilizing nutrients to prevent the formation of these debilitating diseases is a highly affordable and promising strategy.