Vitamins and Antioxidant Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Significance

There are no existing cures, and no methods for restoring vision already lost to the disease, but there are available treatments that help sustain and enhance vision. The vitamins and antioxidants of the AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) were proven as safe and effective treatments for macular degeneration, according to reports from the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Purpose

The purpose of a strong formulation of vitamins and antioxidants for macular degeneration patients is to inhibit the disease's progression from dry macular degeneration (its first, less dangerous phase) to wet macular degeneration, which rapidly decreases vision ability. The goals are to slow disease progression and retain vision ability for as long as possible.

Vitamins and Antioxidants

According to the NEI, the AREDS formula includes high doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc as zinc oxide and copper as cupric oxide. The results of another positive study, reported on CNN.com, found that vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid are effective for preventing age-related macular degeneration.

Efficacy

The NEI reported that under a major clinical trial of roughly 3,600 participants with varying stages of macular degeneration who took the AREDS vitamin formula, the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration decreased by 25 percent. The study showed that these vitamins play a key role in helping people at high risk for progressive, advanced stages of the disease.

Expert Insight

AllAboutVision.com reports that a second phase of the AREDS study, conducted by the NEI and over 100 clinical centers nationwide, began in 2005 to evaluate whether similar effects against macular degeneration could be obtained with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein and zeaxanthin, found in green, leafy vegetables. The results are not yet reported.