Millions of people in this country suffer progressive visual loss from a condition known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). You may be suffering with early macular degeneration or know of a family member or friend who has this condition. To date there has been no effective treatment for this devastating ailment. AMD is the leading cause of blindness as we age. However, the situation is not hopeless.
In a landmark study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in October, researchers reported on a nationwide multi-year study (AREDS) looking at the effects of certain antioxidants and nutrients. Participants in this study were randomly assigned to four different groups:
- Group one received antioxidants consisting of vitamin C (500 mg daily), vitamin E (400 units daily) and beta carotene (15 mg daily)
- Group two received zinc (80 mg) and copper (2 mg daily)
- Group three received the antioxidants plus zinc
- The fourth group received placebo
Over 3,600 participants were involved in the study between the ages of 55 to 80 years old with the average participant being involved in the study for over six years.
Compared to placebo, there was a statistically significant reduction in the development of the more advanced form of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the group that received antioxidants plus zinc. Overall, the reduction to advanced macular degeneration in this group was about 25%. No statistically significant adverse effects were noted in any of the four groups.
Although this was a landmark study clearly indicating that antioxidants with zinc would positively affect the outcome of macular degeneration, the results were far from gratifying. Only those individuals with more advanced macular degeneration noted any real slow down in progression. This nationwide study with the nutrients utilized did not show any reversal of macular degeneration in any of the groups. I also have concerns about the possible neurological toxicity of such large amounts of zinc that would be taken for many years or even decades.
Look for a supplement containing lutein and multiple antioxidants, actually showed reversal of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
“[patients taking] lutein and zeaxanthin during the study, were about 25 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD compared with participants with similar dietary intake who did not take lutein and zeaxanthin.”
Supplements with lutein were first formulated several years ago at the request of ophthalmologists needing an effective product for their patients. After the introduction of this product, they received anecdotal reports from many customers including doctors indicating that their macular degeneration had not only stabilized, but actually was starting to improve.
In fact one doctor had tried all of the popular eye vitamins and yet his AMD continued to progress and his vision continued to deteriorate. When he started supplementing with lutein he noted reversal of AMD and significant improvement in his vision. He even had photographic evidence of the improvement (no possibility of placebo effect here!).
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