New research

A recent study has shown that people who eat oranges regularly are less likely to develop macular degeneration than those who do not.

Researchers at Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research interviewed more than 2000 Australian adults over the age of 50 and followed them for the next 15 years.

The research showed those who consumed at least one serve of oranges each day had a 60 per cent reduction in the risk of developing macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration refers to a group of chronic and degenerative retinal eye diseases that cause progressive loss of central vision. Side and peripheral vision remains undamaged.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness and severe vision loss in Australia and is responsible for 50 per cent of all cases of blindness. The disease affects the ability to drive, read, and recognise faces.

It most commonly affects people aged over 50, with 1 in 7 Australians over 50 showing signs of macular degeneration.

Currently, there is no cure for the condition.

The study

The study’s lead researcher, Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath said: “We found that people who eat at least one serve of orange every day have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who never eat oranges.

“The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.”

The study examined foods that contained flavonoids such as tea, red wine, apples and oranges.

“Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease,” Dr Gopinath said.

Previous studies have focused on the effects of Vitamins A, C and E, on the eyes.

“Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration. Our research aims to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision.”