The leading cause of blindness and visual impairment among
those 65 and older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD occurs when light-sensing cells on the back of the eye
malfunction and die off, causing a gradual loss of central
vision. There is no proven treatment to slow or prevent the
progression of advanced AMD, but in its early stages some
supplements may be effective. The purpose of a recent study
in the Archives of Ophthalmology was to determine the
effectiveness of dietary antioxidants at preventing AMD.
This study determined the effects of high daily doses of
antioxidants (vitamin C - 500 milligrams; vitamin E - 400
IU; beta-carotene - 15 mg), zinc (80 mg), and the combined
effects of zinc and antioxidants, on macular degeneration.
Patients aged 55 to 80 were followed for approximately six
years; all 3,500 individuals were considered to be at-risk
Individuals at high risk for macular degeneration who took
antioxidant supplements plus zinc for six years significantly
lowered their risk for the condition, compared to those given
a placebo (e.g., sugar pills). This group also showed a significant
reduction in loss of visual clarity. Those given antioxidants
or zinc alone reduced their chances for developing AMD, but
by a smaller amount, and showed no change in visual acuity.
After age 55, schedule annual dilated eye examinations to
determine your risk of AMD. If you are at a high risk for
the condition, consider antioxidant and zinc supplementation.
Red meat and shellfish contain high levels of zinc. Dietary
antioxidants are concentrated in oranges; nuts and seeds;
cantaloupe; broccoli; dark-green leafy vegetables; and sweet
Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. A randomized,
placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation
with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc for age-related
macular degeneration and vision loss. Archives of Ophthalmology
2001:119(10), pp. 1417-1436.
Go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/nutrients.html
for more nutrition information.