Fruit juice could increase risk of ‘irreversible blindness’ – study

Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes

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Age spares no mercy to your eyes but getting older is not the only cause of blindness. Worryingly, what you put into your body could compromise your vision as well. Research warns that enjoying a certain fruit juice could lead to age-related macular degeneration and put you at higher risk of blindness.

“Identifying and understanding the links between what we put into our bodies and our health is a constant quest for researchers,” said Dr Rabia Bourkiza, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision.

The research on eyesight and diet doesn’t stay behind either, with a study, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, arriving at a surprising finding.

Whether you enjoy fruit juice on its own first thing in the morning or pair it with a meal later in the day, this beverage is one of the most popular options out there.

Between variety of flavours and its promise to count towards your five-a-day, fruit juice makes for a tempting option but the research found it could increase your risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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AMD describes an eye disease that can blur your central vision and lead to “irreversible blindness”.

“For now, the precise cause of age-related macular degeneration remains unknown and scientists across the world are working to understand the condition better,” Bourkiza said.

These findings are very striking because 100 percent fruit juice is meant to be stripped of additives, preservatives, and colourings, making it one of the best choices.

The research set out to investigate whether enjoying this drink increased the risk of AMD and to find ways to reduce the risk of this eye condition.

Using food questionnaires and publicly available data from 2005 to 2006 NHANES database, which began in the early 1960s to provide information on Americans’ health and nutritional status, the research discovered this controversial finding.

The results showed that 100 percent fruit juice did not affect “early AMD and any AMD” but high consumers of this beverage were more likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration.

Bourkiza said: “While the findings of this survey are interesting, they are inconclusive, as this study wasn’t conducted with the methodology and analysis that would allow a causal relationship to be established.

“Further research, ideally using a randomised trial, is needed to explore whether there is a clear link between drinking fruit juice and age-related macular degeneration.”

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What’s more, the expert suggested there might be some benefits to drinking juice for your eyes after all.

Bourkiza said: “What we do know when it comes to drinking fruit juice is that the vitamins it contains can be very beneficial to our eye health. 

“Citrus fruit juices such as orange or grapefruit are packed with vitamin C, which helps maintain the collagen found in the cornea of the eye. 

“Meanwhile, most berries contain antioxidants that prevent eye dryness, lower blood pressure and protect against vision defects.”

While getting these vitamins from fruit juice is an easy fix, nothing can replace actual fruit, according to the consultant ophthalmic surgeon.

Bourkiza added: “Drinking excessive amounts of one type of fruit juice is not recommended.

“By doing so you may be putting too much sugar into your body – and this could potentially harm other aspects of your health. 

“Don’t neglect to eat plenty of fresh fruit too, as by relying solely on juice you could be missing out on the healthy fibre that is mostly lost during the juicing process.”

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