Researchers from the US have shown that yellow plant pigments play a role in protecting people from developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The study conducted by the scientists at the University of Wisconsin, which has been published in the Journal of Ophthalmology, states that carrots might not actually help a person in the dark but brightly coloured yellow and green vegetables do have the ability to enhance sight. Researchers have explained that sweet corn, broccoli, peas and squash contain the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which might offer protection against damage to eyesight later in life.
It has been reported that eye disease is one of the leading causes of blindness in elderly people, and that there is no cure and but only limited treatment options that are available to slow its progression. Scientists have for long suspected that the condition, of deterioration of the retina could be related to the diet.
The researchers explained that these compounds called as carotenoids, might reduce the risk of AMD by absorbing blue light that could damage the back of the retina. They are also the compounds that give the characteristic colour for fruits, vegetables, and even egg yolk.
The scientists on further investigating the link, calculated the effects of the two pigments in the diet of around 1787 American women between the ages of 50 to 79. They explained that the blood samples and colour photographs of the retina had proved that women aged under 75 were less likely to have intermediate-stage AMD if they followed a high diet of these pigments.
The researchers also explained that though many nutrients may work together to provide protection against AMD, there was however, only a weak association between the pigments and advanced-stage AMD. They explained that the study might not have measured other dietary deficits that could influence the risk.
The researchers said, "This exploratory observation is consistent with a broad body of evidence from observational and experimental studies that suggests that these carotenoids may protect against AMD." They said that that more conclusive evidence should be obtained from long-term potential studies and clinical trials so as to get a better clue of the link.
Robyn Guymer, an ophthalmologist from the Centre for Eye Research Australia, while welcoming the findings said that it is disappointing that they have not proved a stronger association between vegetables and AMD. Professor Guymer mentioned that it is expected that another larger study that was launched recently in the US might throw more light on the subject.