Researchers have learned found that gut microbes appear to influence the development of “wet” age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). 1 This is the more advanced form of ARMD that affects 10% of ARMD patients. Wet macular degeneration leads to vision loss and blindness due to “neovascularization.” New blood vessels form in the retina in response to nutrient deficiences, causing severe damage to vision.
Obesity is a risk factor for developing ARMD. A high‐fat diet alters gut flora, increasing microglia and macrophages. The gut flora mix becomes impaired, leading to inflammation. Inflammation may be linked to the development of macular degeneration.
Transplant of Gut Microbes
The researchers fed a high-fat diet to mice. At one point, half had a “gut bacteria transplant.” They ate gut bacteria from mice that ate a normal diet. All the mice got a laser treatment that simulated ARMD. Some weeks later, the researchers compared the eyes of the different groups. The mice who got a gut bacteria transplant from normally-fed mice had less neovascularization. The mice who ate a high-fat diet but did not get a transplant — and therefore had poor gut bacteria — had significant neovascularization.
The researchers concluded that influencing the makeup of gut bacteria could prevent or reduce the impact of ARMD.
Macular Degeneration strikes seniors. It is a vascular disease, meaning, related to circulation and the heart. A significant amount of scientific research examines the relationship between inflammation and vascular disease. Chronic inflammation causes oxidative stress, leading to cancer, diabetes, aging, and cardiovascular issues.
How to Improve Your Gut Flora
You can improve your gut bacteria by eating a healthy diet. Reduce fat, sugar, soda, junk food, processed meat, fried food, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and hydrogenated oils. Increase fruit and vegetable intake. At Natural Eye Care, we recommend a modified Mediterranean Diet. The “Vision Diet” includes high-quality dairy, eggs, and fish for protein. Eat beans, nuts, seeds, healthy fats such as olive oil, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables and fruits.
- Elisabeth Andriessen, Ariel Wilson, et al, Gut microbiota influences pathological angiogenesis in obesity‐driven choroidal neovascularization. EMBO Molecular Medicine, November 15, 2016. ↩