Slow Down Vision Loss with These Macular Degeneration Supplements

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According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), macular degeneration affects more than 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss. While it’s irreversible and has no cure, there are some ways to slow the progression of advanced stages of this disease. Take a look at some of best macular degeneration supplements that could make a difference.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an eye disease which occurs when the central portion of the retina deteriorates. According to the AMDF, this is “the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see.” It’s also responsible for sending these images via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. Without this function, an individual will be unable to see objects that are straight ahead. The loss of central vision due to the macula degenerating can have an impact on everyday tasks. For example, a person with an advanced stage of this disease will be unable to see faces, drive, read, or write. There are generally three stages of macular degeneration: early, intermediate, and late. In the early stage, people don’t generally have vision loss, while those in the intermediate stage may experience some vision loss. Finally, people in the late stage will have vision loss because of the damage to the macula. In this stage, there are two types: wet and dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration isn’t as common as its dry counterpart. However, it is much more serious as you lose vision faster. On the other hand, those with dry macular degeneration lose their vision over time. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 80% of people diagnosed with macular degeneration have the dry type. Those who smoke have an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. The disease also tends to be more common among Caucasians. Individuals with a family history of the disease are also at higher risk for developing it since genetics can be a factor.

Treatments and the Best Macular Degeneration Supplements

Macular degeneration supplements and treatments Currently, there are no treatments for early macular degeneration. However, lifestyle can help in reducing your chances of developing it. Because smoking is linked to its development, it’s important to avoid smoking or stop altogether. It’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle. This involves exercising regularly, maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eating a healthy diet. This diet should include lots of leafy, green vegetables and fish1. Age is also one of the biggest factors when it comes to developing macular degeneration. Typically, a person’s chances of developing the disease increase past the age of 60. However, it is possible to develop it earlier too. This is why it’s imperative to make healthy choices earlier on. For those in the intermediate stages, the best macular degeneration supplements are the AREDS and AREDS2 formulations.

The AREDS Formulation

In an effort to find an effective means to reduce the risk of cataracts and advanced stages of the disease, the federal government’s National Eye Institute sponsored the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The study found that “high levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration by about 25 percent.”2 Here’s a breakdown of the original formulation:
  • 500 mg of vitamin C
  • 400 IU of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of beta-carotene
  • 80 mg of zinc as zinc oxide
  • 2 mg of copper as cupric oxide

The AREDS2 Formulation

In 2006, researchers wanted to determine if adding omega-3 fatty acids or the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin to the original formulation would be more effective. They also wanted to determine if changes to the levels of zinc and beta-carotene would make a difference. The reason being was that some studies showed that beta-carotene could potentially increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers3. The research concluded that adding the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin to the original formulation didn’t have an overall effect on the risk of advanced macular degeneration. However, those participants who took the formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin with no beta-carotene had a slight risk reduction for the advanced stage. The study found that this formulation was most effective for participants with very low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet. As a result, adding these antioxidants to the formulation “provided about a 20% reduction in progression beyond the original AREDS” formulation for this group4. Here’s what the AREDS2 formulation comprises of:
  • 500 mg of vitamin C
  • 400 IU of vitamin E
  • 80 mg of zinc as zinc oxide
  • 2 mg of copper as cupric oxide
  • 10 mg of lutein
  • 2 mg of zeaxanthin
If you’re in the intermediate stage of macular degeneration, talk to your doctor to see if the AREDS or AREDS2 formulations are right for you. Generally, the original AREDS formulation is safer for non-smokers, while the AREDS2 formulation is safer for those who smoke or who have lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets. If you’re planning on taking any other vitamins for your eyes, be sure to discuss this with your doctor as well.

Vitamins for Your Eyes

Vitamins for your eyes There are no clear indications that vitamins for your eyes can help prevent you from developing early stages of macular degeneration. If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins for your eyes, keep in mind that a healthy diet is the best source. However, if your diet does lack certain vitamins and nutrients, talk to your doctor about taking supplements. The good news is that the supplements your doctor may advise would also benefit your overall health, not just your eyes alone! If you’re already taking a multivitamin, ensure it contains the following5:
  • 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid
  • 5000 IU of beta-carotene
  • 500 mg of calcium
  • 800 mcg of folic acid
  • 10 mg of lutein
  • 100 mg of n-acetyl cysteine
  • 2000-3000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids
  • 100 mcg of selenium
  • 2 mg of thiamin
  • 250 mg of vitamin C
  • 200 mg of vitamin E
  • 500 mcg of zeaxanthin
  • 25 mg of zinc
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is also generally considered an important vitamin for eye health. Learn more about it and see why it’s important.

Final Word

If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration, don’t forget that there are viable options! Speak with your doctor about how you can slow its progression. Also discuss which macular degeneration supplements (the AREDS formulations) are right for you if you are in the intermediate stage. As a way to reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, remember that a healthy diet and lifestyle is key. It’s also important to get your eyes checked every two years to ensure your eyes are healthy, so don’t skip those eye exams! << Go Back

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