People who consume few calcium-rich milk products are at risk for vision problems, according to a study from the University of Sydney, Australia. Researchers investigated the association between consumption of total, regular, and low-fat dairy foods, as well as total calcium intake, with the risk for vascular problems of the retina. Dietary intakes were gathered on people who were 50-years-old or older and compared to photographs of retinal vascular calibrations. Results showed that people who consumed the least amount of dairy foods compared to those who consumed the most had significantly more vascular damage in retinal tissue. Damage was most pronounced in those who consumed the least amount of low-fat milk products. Low calcium intake also was associated with more damage to blood vessels in retinal tissue.
In Perspective: Retinal vascular disorders refer to a range of eye diseases that affect the blood vessels in the eye. These conditions are linked to existing vascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls). These conditions were adjusted for in this study, so did not play a role in the results. The most common retinal vascular disorders include: hypertensive retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, central retinal artery occlusion, and diabetic retinopathy. Any of these can lead to serious vision problems, including blindness.
Gopinath B, Flood V, Wang J, et al: Lower dairy products and calcium intake is associated with adverse retinal vascular changes in older adults. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease 2014;24:155-161.