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Eating Red Meat May Increase Chance of ARMD

Dietary intake of red meat may be risk factor for developing macular degeneration. Eating chicken may have beneficial effects.

An Australian study reports an increased risk for developing macular degeneration (ARMD) in persons that eat red meat at least 10 times per week.  Those that ate chicken were not found to have a higher risk.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, eating red meat 10 times per week, compared to eating less than 4.5 times per week increased the chance of developing early ARMD.  Patients that eat chicken had a decreased chance of developing early macular degeneration.  Eating fish had no effect.   Eating red meat did not increase the chance of developing late ARMD, but eating chicken at least 3.5 times/week did decrease the chance of developing late macular degeneration.

What does this mean to you?  At the very least this underscores the possibility that environmental factors and diet have significant influence on your eyes.  There are too many variables and possible causes of macular degeneration to say for sure.

Article:  Am J Epidemiol. 2009;169:867-876

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist

  • CT Eye Doctor April 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Interesting article! It seems strange to me that eating fish would have no effect on risk for AMD since omega-3 fatty acids seem to be the wonder supplement in eye care these days. I wonder what makes chicken a negative modifier?

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D. April 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      Don’t give up yet! Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. They may be useful in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Coronary artery disease, cancer, and aging are “conditions” associated with interleukin 1 (IL1); a mediator of inflammation.

      Many trials have shown the benefits of fish oils including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus erythematosus to name a few. I think it is only a matter of time before fish oils are found to be beneficial to ARMD as more and more evidence points to an inflammatory component.

      The article reported no benefit to eating fish, but I am not sure how to compare servings of fish to equivalents of fish oil.

      We’ll save the musings over chicken for another day.

      Look forward to hearing from you,


    • Randall V. Wong, M.D. May 1, 2009 at 9:30 am

      Just reviewed an article on AREDS and AREDS2. Although the original message was that the AREDS formula did work for patients at moderate to high-risk, there were several other findings regarding nutrition.

      To your point, omega-3 fatty acids were shown to have a decrease in neovascular AMD in those patients that ate fish at baseline. This is not a direct correlation of our comments the other day, as the development of atrophic AMD, was not mentioned.



      Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Retina Specialist/ Ophthalmologist

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