Antioxidant Vitamins and Zinc Reduce Risk of Vision Loss from Age-Related Macular Degeneration
NIH NEWS RELEASE : 12:01 a.m. EDT Friday, October 12, 2001
High levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and its associated vision loss. These same nutrients had no significant effect on the development or progression of cataract. These findings from a nationwide clinical trial are reported in the October 2001 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.
Scientists found that people at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD, a leading cause of vision loss, lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. In the same high risk group - which includes people with intermediate AMD, or advanced AMD in one eye but not the other eye - the nutrients reduced the risk of vision loss caused by advanced AMD by about 19 percent.
For those study participants who had either no AMD or early AMD, the nutrients did not provide an apparent benefit. The clinical trial - called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) - was sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health.
"This is an exciting discovery because, for people at high risk for developing advanced AMD, these nutrients are the first effective treatment to slow the progression of the disease," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NEI. "AMD is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in Americans 65 years of age and older. Currently, treatment for advanced AMD is quite limited. These nutrients will delay the progression to advanced AMD in people who are at high risk - those with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, or those with advanced AMD in one eye already.
"The nutrients are not a cure for AMD, nor will they restore vision already lost from the disease," Dr. Sieving said. "But they will play a key role in helping people at high risk for developing advanced AMD keep their vision."
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