HKU links diet with age-related macular degeneration


It is the first of such research in Asia

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision impairment among the elderly in Hong Kong. The major symptom involves the gradual blurring of central sight, triggered by the multifactorial degeneration of retinal cells.

As the disease progresses, certain patients with atrophic AMD (dry-form) might develop macular neovascularization (wet-form), causing rapid loss of vision. Unfortunately, the incidence of neovascular AMD is higher in Hong Kong population due to heredity. Although neovascularization can currently be controlled by anti-VEGF injections, effective preventive measures are still lacking.

Assistant Professor Dr Jetty Chung-Yung Lee and graduate researcher Andy Ho-Hang Leung from the School of Biological Science, and Honorary Associate Professor Dr Ian Y H Wong and Honorary Assistant Professor Dr Alex L K Ng from Department of Ophthalmology, the University of Hong Kong (HKU), discovered in an observational study that the representative Hong Kong population was deficient in fatty fish (omega-3 fatty acid) and dark green vegetables (carotenoids) and had excessive red meat (omega-6 fatty acid) in the diet, which increased the risk of developing AMD.

The poor dietary habits were also associated with the generation of fatty acid oxygenated products via free radicals/ROS, which promoted inflammation and further increased the risk factors for AMD development.

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