Devouring Kale and Eye Health Supplements? That May Be Too Much of a Good Thing

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 22-Feb-2017

Eye doctors regularly prescribe AREDS-2 (age-related eye disease study) eye health supplements to slow the progression of macular degeneration. However, a recent case report published in JAMA Ophthalmology revealed what happened to one woman who took supplementation too far. Yes, you can overdose on nutritional supplements.

According to Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Arlington eye doctor Ronald Barke, M.D., the JAMA report highlights why we need to use common sense and consult a doctor before adding supplements to our diets.

As Dr. Barke explains, “The woman identified in the report ended up with crystal deposits in the macular region of her retina. Unbeknownst to the patient (who didn’t have macular degeneration), she was overdosing on lutein by consuming double the recommended daily dosage of lutein supplements and drinking a daily smoothie loaded with lutein-rich foods like kale and spinach.”

While the JAMA report does serve as a cautionary tale, Dr. Barke says the upside of lutein supplements for treating macular degeneration – the AREDS-2 formula in particular – outweighs the risks. Along with lutein, the AREDS-2 formula includes nutrients, vitamins, zinc and other antioxidants that studies show support eye health.

“There are millions of patients who successfully take lutein supplements like AREDS-2 to manage macular degeneration. This case involved one patient who took too much of a good thing. Lutein supplements have proven to be a very effective treatment for slowing the progression of vision loss caused by this disease,” explains Dr. Barke.

Dr. Barke discusses the benefits of the antioxidant-rich AREDS-2 formula for patients with macular degeneration.

So how can you avoid getting too much of a good thing?

Dr. Barke encourages patients to speak frankly with their eye doctor about their diet and any medications or supplements they take. As he explains, “At Key-Whitman we regularly review our macular degeneration patients’ dietary, medication and supplementation history to help ensure we prescribe the appropriate type and dosage of supplements.”

Early diagnosis and treatment of macular degeneration is key for staving off vision loss caused by the disease. People who are at higher risk for macular degeneration should schedule – at a minimum – annual screenings with an eye doctor. Main risk factors include:

  • Age 50 and above
  • Family history of macular degeneration
  • Smoker or former smoker
  • Obesity

Once diagnosed, the eye doctor can recommend a variety of treatments for the patient, based on the type of macular degeneration – wet or dry – the doctor diagnoses.

Dr. Barke discusses the importance of early screening for macular degeneration.

Don’t let unnecessary fears about macular degeneration deter you from seeing an eye doctor

Dr. Barke finds that patients with macular degeneration or those who are at risk for the disease have two unnecessary fears about the disease that deter them from getting an eye exam.

No. 1: Patients are concerned they will go completely blind.

No. 2: Patients have worries about the treatments available for macular degeneration.

According to Dr. Barke, patients don’t need to be fearful. As he explains, “At Key-Whitman, we hear these concerns all of the time, but we also know how to allay our patients’ fears. The most important thing we tell patients is that you can stave off vision loss when macular degeneration is diagnosed early.

“In addition, supplements work very well with an early diagnosis. Plus, laser procedures and the medicine we instill into the eyes for the wet form of macular degeneration can be extremely effective. We also keep patients comfortable and pain-free during these procedures by applying a numbing solution to the eye.”

Learn more about the AREDS-2 studies in this past story: Beyond the Carrot: 5 Surprising Facts About How Diet And Nutritional Supplements Impact Eye Health

If you notice any changes to your vision, schedule an eye exam ASAP

As with most eye diseases and conditions, early diagnosis and treatment is key for maintaining healthy vision.

If you have concerns about your vision or that of a loved one, we’re here to help. To schedule an eye health exam in Arlington with Dr. Barke or with one of our eye doctors in Dallas, Plano or Mesquite – please call (972) 905-9128, or feel free to set up an appointment online here.

Dr. Ronald Barke is a board certified ophthalmologist who has been practicing in Arlington, Texas since 1995. He has performed thousands of cataract and refractive surgeries during his career and also serves on the faculty at UT/Southwestern Medical Center where he teaches in the resident training program.

Photo Source: Adobe Stock

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