Macular Degeneration is a progressive ocular disease that causes people to lose central vision. Risk factors include smoking, sun exposure, poor nutrition and family history. For the last ten years, it has been scientifically proven that vitamin supplements can decrease the progression of Macular degeneration and prolong the onset. Supplements such as Ocuvite and Preservision have been well marketed for this reason. On May 6th 2013, an updated study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the mainstream media is reporting the report shows that Omega 3 fatty acids show no benefit to the Macula, that is not the most significant finding. We’ve known that Omega 3′s are helpful for improving the symptoms of dry eye, and this study shows that they are minimally beneficial for certain types of retinal deposits.
The most important result of AREDS-2 is the function of the carotenoids (anti-oxidants) in treating age related macular degeneration. Lutein and Zeaxanthine are carotenoids naturally found in the macular protective pigment. They are antioxidants which protect against the damage caused by harmful molecules of free radicals created by cigarette smoke, air pollutants, radiation, certain drugs and environmental toxins. As we age, we do not absorb these nutrients obtained through food such as broccoli, corn, squash and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Meso-Zeaxanthin (which unfortunately wasn’t included in the study) is obtained by an enzyme conversion of Lutein to Meso-Zeaxanthine in the macula. It is not found in a typical diet. The study showed that people who were taking Lutein and Zeaxanthine along with the standard AREDS formula vitamin such as Ocuvite, showed a 10 percent decrease in progression of macular degeneration. Patients whose diet did not include the foods with the carotenoids of Lutein and Zeaxanthine, showed a 26 percent decrease in progression of the disease.
A few other noteworthy findings include the use of zinc and beta-carotene. Supplementing zinc showed no improvement of the disease, yet doubled the risk of prostate cancer in men. Beta-carotene, which was included in the original AREDS study, proved to increase the risk of lung cancer in any patient that had a history of smoking. Beta-carotene also interfered with the absorption and efficacy of Lutein and Zeaxanthine, causing them to be less effective. Therefore, we need to take a multi-vitamin at a different time than an ocular supplement.
So what do we need to know so that we can reduce our risk of getting macular degeneration, or slow down the progression that may already be occurring?
Recommended supplements for macular degeneration:
MacuHealth with LMZ3 is a patented natural eye health supplement consisting of the three primary protective pigments found in the macula—Lutein, Zeaxanthine and Meso-zeaxanthine. Taking this one small, easy-to-swallow soft gel once a day has been clinically proven to restore macular pigments to normal levels for enhanced vision and help in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration. This supplement in addition to a good multivitamin will give your eyes the protection it needs from Macular Degeneration.