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Study Indicates Eating Fruit Protects Health of Eyes

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Chicago (dpa) - People who eat at least three pieces of fruit a day decrease their risk of developing an eye disease that often leads to blindness after age 65, a study conducted in the U.S. and published Tuesday in the Archives of Ophthalmology shows. The study involved more than 77,000 nurses and more than 40,000 other participants in the U.S. who were observed on a number of health matters over a period of 12 to 18 years by researchers with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The eye disease macula degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss after age 65. It is caused by the degeneration of cells in the macula, a small part of the retina, or through the growth of blood vessels under the retina. There are no effective treatments for the condition, which causes loss of central vision. The study found that both men and women who consumed three or more servings of unspecified fruit a day decreased their risk of developing macular degeneration by 36 per cent compared with people who only ate one-and-a-half servings of fruit. "Because there are a limited number of treatment options for age- related macular degeneration, clinicians and researchers have been focused on identifying factors that reduce risk and can ultimately save a person's eyesight," said Eunyoung Cho, the study's lead author. The apparent preventative components of fruit are antioxidant vitamins or carotenoids, flavanoids, fibre, folate and potassium. Cho said the study was the first large-scale look at diet and preventing the condition. More research is needed, the authors said.

Copyright 2004 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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