Good vision is often taken for granted during youth, but as people grow older concerns vision become a source of anxiety. Nobody looks forward to loss of vision, and with increasing age there are numerous conditions that can seriously compromise sight or even result in blindness. Some vitamins and minerals are necessary for good vision, but there is a lot of inaccurate information about what can help prevent eye disease and what can’t.
The AREDS Study Had Provided Scientific Data Regarding Vitamins and Eye Health
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study – AREDS – followed nearly 5,000 participants between the ages of 55-80 years in 11 nationwide clinical centers. Participants were followed for up to eight years and received one of four treatments:
- 80 mg zinc oxide;
- antioxidants in the form of 500 mg. of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 15 mg of beta-carotene;
- zinc oxide and antioxidants as mentioned above;
- a placebo – a safe substance of no medical value.
Participants were divided into groups according to their risk for age-related macular degeneration – AMD.
The nutrients were of benefit only in people who began the study at high risk for AMD – those with intermediate AMD, and those with advanced AMD in one eye only. Some benefit was gained from zinc only, but the greatest benefit was in the zinc plus antioxidant group. There was no indication that the nutrients cured AMD or prevented cataracts.
The results of AREDS suggest a 25% reduction in AMD among high risk groups taking supplemental zinc and vitamins C and E as described above. Two mg of copper is included in the AREDS formula to offset possible complications resulting from the high zinc intake.
The AREDS formula will not help everyone and is not to be considered a cure for AMD.
AREDS2 will Examine Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Omega-3
Lutein and zeaxanthin filter high-energy blue light. Neither is manufactured by the body and both are found in green leafy vegetables and other foods. They are found in significant amounts in the retina suggesting that they are important to eye health.
Numerous studies have sought to establish the roles of lutein and zeaxanthin in nutrition – particularly of the eye and specifically to macular degeneration. A definite link between lutein and zeaxanthin and retinal health has yet to be demonstrated conclusively.
The National Eye Institute is involved in AREDS2 to try to determine whether or not lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 supplementation can decrease the risk of AMD or other eye diseases. Results are expected to be released after 4,000 participants have been followed for six years.
Numerous eye health vitamin preparations are available that are based on the AREDS formula and already include lutein and zeaxanthin presupposing their efficacy in healthy vision.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
Life style is a major risk factor for many human diseases, and macular degeneration is no exception. Exercise, diet, and healthy living reduce the risk of AMD and other diseases.
Specific risk factors that increase the chances for AMD include:
- Race – whites are much more likely to lose vision from AMD than African Americans;
- Family history – those with immediate family members who have AMD are at a higher risk;
- Gender – women appear to be at greater risk than men.
- Smokers are at a higher risk;
- Obesity increases the risk.
Consult a Doctor for the Best Information
Vitamins have been shown to prevent or improve many conditions. However, much money is wasted by people who are not conscious of dosage and think simply that more is better.
There are conditions which can be made worse by excessive vitamin usage. At the very least, many people are wasting money by getting information from unreliable sources. A doctor is the best guide to whether or not vitamins might help prevent or improve eye disease.
When researching on the Internet it is wise to remember that some sources have a vested interest and may be biased. There are many reputable websites – especially those representing major institutes of medicine.