The Role of Diet, Micronutrients and the Gut Microbiota in Age-Related Macular Degeneration: New Perspectives from the Gut⁻Retina Axis

Nutrients. 2018 Nov 5;10(11):1677. doi: 10.3390/nu10111677.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex multifactorial disease and the primary cause of legal and irreversible blindness among individuals aged ≥65 years in developed countries. Globally, it affects 30⁻50 million individuals, with an estimated increase of approximately 200 million by 2020 and approximately 300 million by 2040. Currently, the neovascular form may be able to be treated with the use of anti-VEGF drugs, while no effective treatments are available for the dry form. Many studies, such as the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS 2, have shown a potential role of micronutrient supplementation in lowering the risk of progression of the early stages of AMD. Recently, low-grade inflammation, sustained by dysbiosis and a leaky gut, has been shown to contribute to the development of AMD. Given the ascertained influence of the gut microbiota in systemic low-grade inflammation and its potential modulation by macro- and micro-nutrients, a potential role of diet in AMD has been proposed. This review discusses the role of the gut microbiota in the development of AMD. Using PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus, we searched for recent scientific evidence discussing the impact of dietary habits (high-fat and high-glucose or -fructose diets), micronutrients (vitamins C, E, and D, zinc, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin) and omega-3 fatty acids on the modulation of the gut microbiota and their relationship with AMD risk and progression.

Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; dietary habits; fish oil; gut microbiota; gut-retina axis; micronutrients; omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; personalised medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet*
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Glucose / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Micronutrients*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retina
  • Risk Factors


  • Micronutrients
  • Fructose
  • Glucose