Macular Degeneration & Vitamins

Macular Degeneration Treatment

Vitamins and minerals. Many researchers and eyecare practitioners believe that antioxidant vitamins, such as beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamins C and E, may protect the macula from damage.

In fact, a recently published study of over 3600 people found that supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc reduced certain patients' risk of progressing to advanced AMD by about 28%. This number reflects those patients with a lot of intermediate or large drusen but not those with limited intermediate drusen or multiple small drusen.

Because of their findings, the researchers recommend that patients at risk of developing advanced AMD consider taking antioxidant and zinc supplements. Participants received:

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of beta-carotene
  •  80 mg of zinc oxide

Bausch & Lomb is now marketing these nutrients in one supplement, called Ocuvite PreserVision.

Note that smokers should avoid beta carotene supplements, as they increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and those who've recently quit.

The eyecare community does not agree on the benefits of zinc or antioxidant supplements: more study is needed, especially on the long-term effects of high-dose supplementation. Keep in mind also that too much of any vitamin or mineral may affect the body's ability to absorb other important nutrients.

Visudyne drug treatment

For those with wet AMD, the Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Visudyne, the first-ever drug therapy for this form of the disease. It's only for those whose new blood vessels are characterized as "predominantly classic": about 40% to 60% of new wet AMD patients, according to Visudyne maker CIBA Vision.

In this treatment procedure, the doctor injects Visudyne into your arm, then activates the drug by shining a laser into your eye. In clinical trials, 67% of patients found that either their vision loss stabilized or that their vision improved.