An orange a day keeps bad eyesight away according to new research.
People who regularly eat one orange per day slash their chances of developing macular degeneration by more than 60 per cent.
The incurable disease, a painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of vision, is the most common cause of sight loss in the elderly.
Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, in Australia interviewed more than 2,000 adults over 50 and followed them over a 15-year period.
Results showed those that ate at least one orange a day had more than a 60 per cent reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later compared with those who did not eat the citrus fruit.
Researchers believe it is the flavonoids, an antioxidant in the fruit, that have the effect.
They also looked at other common foods such as tea, red wine and apples and could find no link to preventing macular degenration.
Professor Bamini Gopinath, lead researcher from the University of Sydney and study author said: “Essentially 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.
“Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.
“The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease.”
Researchers hoped to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision in conducting their research.
Previous studies focused on the effects of common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A have on the eyes whereas professor Gopinath’s study took a new approach.
She said: “Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration.
“Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.”
The team looked at everyday foods such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges but the round fruit was the only food source linked to protecting the eyes against the disease.
She said: “Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease.”
Around 600,000 people in the UK currently have sight loss caused by the incurable disease and around 70,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, equivalent to nearly 200 per day.
Age is the strongest known risk factor and the disease is more likely to occur after the age of 50.
The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, began in 1992 and is one of the world’s largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.
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