Antioxidants and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 10-Feb-2014

How you take care of your body—what you put into it and how much exercise you get—plays a key role in how well it is able to fight off diseases and infections. The same goes for eye diseases.

Nutrition is especially important when it comes to preventing or delaying the progression of eye diseases, especially age-related macular degeneration. A 2012 study by the National Eye Institute (NEI) confirmed the disease is a “nutrition-responsive disorder.” Changing your diet and taking supplements with antioxidants and vitamins can prevent the disease or slow vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study from the NEI is the first large clinical trial to test the effect of antioxidants and zinc on the prevention or delayed progression of age-related macular degeneration and its associated vision loss.

In the clinical trial, a high dose of antioxidant vitamins and zinc supplements reduced the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration by about 25 percent and reduced vision loss by 19 percent in the study subjects who were at high risk for developing the advanced stage of this disease. Results of the study were published in December 2012.

The specific doses of supplements used in the study were:

• 500 milligrams (mg) vitamin C

• 400 IU vitamin E

• 15 mg beta-carotene

• 80 mg zinc

• 2 mg copper (to prevent anemia from high dose zinc)

According to researchers, the combination of supplements used in the trial is the first effective treatment to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The NEI recommends adults over age 55 with signs of intermediate to late-stage vision loss should consider taking an antioxidant vitamin and zinc supplement to slow it down.

While the NEI study examined the benefits of a vitamin supplement regimen, you can increase your doses of each of these vital vitamins and antioxidants simply by changing what you eat. By adding antioxidants and vitamins to your nutrition protocol, you can help prevent age-related macular degeneration all together or slow its progress.

Here’s a helpful list of foods to help you get more vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper in your diet.

Vitamin C: cantaloupe, citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, berries, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green and red peppers, leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash

Vitamin E: nuts and seeds, leafy greens

Beta-carotene: lettuce and leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, winter squash, sweet potatoes

Zinc: oysters, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, nuts, cocoa and chocolate, mushrooms

Copper: liver, oysters, sesame seeds, cocoa powder and chocolate, nuts, calamari, lobster, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, pumpkin and squash seeds, dried herbs

If you have experienced changes in your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. Though nutrition can help prevent or delay progression of eye diseases such as macular degeneration, it is still important to maintain regular eye exams. You have the best chance of maintaining your vision and preventing vision loss if eye conditions are detected and treated in the early stages.

For more information, contact Key-Whitman today.

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