Eye/Vision HealthTo date, medical treatment options for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) are few. However, clinical nutrition studies since the late 1980s are continuing to mount, signifying a pivotal role for using certain nutrients to not only stave off the progression of AMRD but also improve visual outcome and macular pigment optical density (MPOD).
Population-based and case-control studies suggest a protective role of zinc and antioxidants, ingested either as part of one's diet or as a supplement. These studies are supported by the AREDS (age-related eye disease study) trial, which demonstrated a 25% reduction in the development of advanced ARMD in the group taking combined doses of zinc, antioxidants and copper over a six-year period.
The Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial (LAST) and the oral zinc trial also reported a positive effect of nutritional supplementation on ARMD. There is also increasing circumstantial evidence for the beneficial effects from the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which weren't included in the AREDS supplement.
Higher concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin result in a thicker MPOD which is associated with lower rates of ARMD. MPOD can also be increased with dietary supplements containing higher dosages of lutein as well as bilberry extract.
Earlier studies suggest that approximately 6mg of lutein are necessary to decrease the risk of ARMD, yet, the Veterans LAST study showed visual function improvement and thicker MPOD in patients with severe ARMD using 10 mg of lutein along with a broad spectrum formula of antioxidants and other supporting vitamins and minerals. In contrast with the AREDS trial, which used isolated beta carotene as its only carotenoid, the LAST study used mixed carotenoids, which may explain improvements in the visual outcome when compared to the AREDS study.
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