"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," said lead researcher Bamini Gopinath, an Associate Professor from the University of Sydney. "Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.”
Macular degeneration is a condition affecting almost 1 in 7 Aussies over the age of 50, wherein the centre of the eye’s retina deteriorates, leaving those affected with loss of vision or distortion in the centre of their vision.
The study followed participants over a period of 15 years to provide conclusive results linking the flavonoids found in oranges to degeneration prevention.
"Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system,” explained Gopinath.
According to the team, previous studies had focused on vitamins C, E and A and their impact on eye health, with this study the first to examine the effects of flavonoids.
"We examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges. Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease," she said.
While there is no known cure for macular degeneration, the research goes a long way to identify a strong preventative measures that can be effective in earlier life.