Using mice, a team of researchers from the University of Montreal has determined that changes in gut bacteria may contribute to the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by triggering an abnormal immune response in the body. Specifically, eating a diet rich in unhealthy fats can alter the microbial community in the gut, where at least 70% of the immune system can be found. This can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn may worsen conditions such as wet AMD.
“Our study suggests that diets rich in fat alter the gut microbiome in a way that aggravates wet AMD, a vascular disease of the aging eye. Influencing the types of microbes that reside in your gut either through diet or by other means may thus affect the chances of developing AMD and progression of this blinding disease,” said lead author Dr. Przemyslaw Sapieha.
Researchers believe their findings, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, may begin to explain the strong link between obesity and AMD. It is possible that modifying the gut bacteria with friendly microbes from certain foods and probiotic supplements may help reduce inflammation and support eye health as we age.*