According to studies intake of fat (especially present in the processed baked foods) may promote the progression of an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of blindness from 65 years of age. Macular degeneration is basically a breakdown or damage to a portion of retina called macula, resulting in symptoms such as blurring of vision (in the central visual field), difficulty in reading or performing work at a close distance, colors appear dim etc.
Based on a possible link between AMD and heart disease the researchers carried out a study on 261 people (age, 60 years and above) suffering from age-related macular degeneration. All the patients were followed-up for a period of 5 years. At the end of the study it was observed that in about 101 patients AMD progressed to a severe disease. The researchers found that the disease progression to a severe form was 3 times more common in patients who consumed high amounts of fat. Vegetable fat was a greater contributor to this than was animal fat. The researchers believe that the dietary fat results in the progression of AMD due to deposition of cholesterol and building up of plaque in the arteries of the eye (thus, reducing the blood supply) or due to release of certain chemicals that damage the macula portion of retina.
However, researchers say that the fats found in nuts seem to prevent the progression of AMD. According to them, the risk of disease progression in AMD reduces by 40% in people who eat nuts at least once a week.
Because there are a very few treatment options for advanced stages of AMD and not much is known about its modifiable risk factors it is essential that awareness is created among people about the importance of a healthy, low-fat diet in maintaining good eye health as well as a healthy heart.