As the Baby Boom generation ages we anticipate more and more people will be diagnosed with Macular Degeneration (AMD). Estimates run as high as 6.5 million Baby Boomers with some degree of AMD over the course of their lifetimes. One of our Skyvision Facebook friends, a Baby Boomer herself, asked us how to treat early AMD.
Research in the late 1980's suggested that oxidative stress was involved in AMD and vision loss. Equally compelling evidence suggested that anti-oxidative vitamins in high doses reduced that risk. The National Eye Institute supported the AREDS1 study to evaluate this, and is finishing up the AREDS2 right now.
The AREDS1 showed that a combination of Vitamen C 500mg, Vitamin E 400IU, Vitamin A in beta-carotene form 15mg, Zinc 80 mg, and Copper 2 mg reduced the risk of vision loss by 25% in so-called "high-risk" macular degeneration. Further research showed that using this formula in moderate risk AMD was also reasonable, but that the full AREDS1 formula should NOT be used in smokers because of an increased risk for lung cancer from the beta-carotene.
The AREDS2 study has added Lutein 10mg, and zeaxanthin 2mg to the mix, as well as high-grade fish oil (DHA/EPA: 350mg/650mg). Some minor alterations in zinc have also been made in AREDS2. We have been recommending AREDS1 vitamins for essentially all AMD patients who are non-smokers. Formulations without beta-carotene are available for smokers. With a few exceptions for very specialized medical conditions or drug interactions, the doctors at Skyvision Centers simply see no reason NOT to take high quality fish oil supplements!
In an upcoming post we'll try to answer some questions that come up frequently when we talk about vitamins and macular degeneration.