Sight loss: will blueberries do any good?


I am 74 and have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (the dry form of the disease). My vision is slowly getting worse and I am finding it more and more difficult to read. Are there any nutritional remedies that will slow down the progression of this disease? I have heard that blueberries are good, but I don't want to spend time or money on hopeless remedies.

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Macular degeneration comes in two forms - wet and dry. The dry form is more common, but the wet form is more devastating, because it sometimes causes a rapid deterioration in vision. The macula is the centre of the retina, and the part of the eye that is responsible for the central field of vision. When the cells in the macula deteriorate, it becomes more and more difficult to see things clearly. There are no effective medical or surgical treatments for the dry form, but there is some evidence that changes in the diet might keep the macular cells from deteriorating too quickly. A research trial showed that high doses of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins A, C and E, had some effect in slowing down dry macular degeneration. There has also been a lot of talk (but less convincing evidence) that some foods contain substances (flavonoids) that will help. Blueberries are often mentioned, as are onions, cranberries and many other fruits and vegetables. The Royal National Institute for the Blind (www.rnib.org.uk) recommends a diet high in fruit and vegetables, avoiding smoking, and vitamins, if you and your GP think your diet is inadequate.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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