Posted by: Carolinas Center for Sight in Macular Degeneration

Allen Taylor, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, examined the eyes of more than 500 women between 53 and 73 years of age.

Dr. Taylor’s research findings focus on the likelihood of having abnormalities characteristic of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) during eye exams.  Abnormalities more than doubled for women who consumed diets with the highest glycemic index, regardless of other factors already known or suspected to increase the risk of AMD, such as age, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and obesity.

Healthy Carbs:

It is important to know what foods are considered healthy carbs and which foods are considered bad carbohydrates.  

The type of carbohydrate that we eat does matter in a macular degeneration diet.  Foods that cause our blood sugar to spike which then results in an increased secretion of insulin, are harmful to our health and to our vision.

Low Glycemic Carbs List:

There are good carbohydrates for you and there are bad carbs that lead to chronic inflammation.  It is important to know which ones to include and which ones you need to start eliminating from your diet.  Generally, foods that are higher in fiber are the low glycemic carbs that are better for you.

Low Glycemic Carbs Include:
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brown or Wild Rice
  • Oatmeal – regular, slow cooked
  • Vegetables – asparagus, red, green and orange peppers, squash, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts
  • Beans – chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, lima beans and butter beans
  • Fruit – Cherries, grapefruit, tomatoes, apricots
  • Raw Nuts

Bad Carbohydrates:

Bad carbohydrates are foods that contribute to chronic inflammation which increases our risk for macular degeneration along with other diseases.  These bad carbs are high in the glycemic index.

High Glycemic Cards Include:
  • Whole Wheat and White Flour
  • White Potatoes
  • White Rice
  • White Pasta
  • Instant Oatmeal and Processed Cold Cereals
  • Rice Cakes
  • Pretzels
  • French Fries
  • Pizza
  • Watermelon

Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is no different and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.

Because wheat carbohydrates cause a greater spike in blood sugar than virtually any other food—more than a candy bar, table sugar, or ice cream—wheat carbs also trigger greater insulin release.

In fact, the glycemic index of whole wheat bread is 72, while white bread is 69 and a Snickers bar is 41.  By eliminating grains that are high glycemic as well as foods with sugar, you can start to reduce inflammation that leads to many degenerative conditions.

Anywhere glucose goes, which is virtually everywhere in the body, advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, will follow.  This includes our eyes, from the lens to the retina. In fact, no structure in the eye escapes the damaging effects of AGEs, including the retina (macular degeneration), the vitreous (the gel-like liquid filling the eyeball), and the cornea.

View the full AMD infographic here.