Every year thousands of people all over the world are affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can ruin people"s sight and severely impair their everyday lives, but few treatments for the condition exist.
However, a recent study by experts in the US, based on mouse models has suggested that a diet that is low on the glycemic index (GI) could help to delay the onset of AMD.
Experts at the new study from the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University have published the findings, which could change the future of AMD therapy.
The researchers studied middle-aged and older mice that consumed either a higher or lower GI diet and found that mice fed the lower GI diet developed fewer and less-severe age-related lesions in the retina than the mice fed the higher GI diet.
These lesions included basal laminar deposits, which typically develop after age 60 in the human retina and are the earliest warning sign of AMD, noted Dr Allen Taylor, director of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the USDA HNRCA.
He explained: "To our knowledge, we have established the first mature, mammalian model indicating a delay in the development of AMD-like lesions as the result of a lower GI diet. The only difference between the two groups of mice we studied is the GI of their meals, which suggests that diet alone is enough to accelerate or delay the formation of lesions."
The expert added that the results, coupled with similar observations made by the laboratory in earlier human epidemiologic studies imply that lower GI diets, hold potential as an early intervention for preventing onset and progress of AMD.
Dr Taylor concluded that further studies will now seek to further the research to explore the link between a low GI diet and AMD.
by Martin Burns