Antioxidants and carotenoids linked to AMD improvements

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Amd, Antioxidant, Lutein, Macular degeneration

Supplements of antioxidants and carotenoids may improve retinal
health in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD),
suggesting a role beyond prevention, suggests a new study from
Italy.

A combination of vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin was found to improve the function of the central retina among 27 people with non-advanced AMD, scientists report in the journal Ophthalmology​. "Because of the small number of patients enrolled, the present trial can be considered a pilot study and caution must be taken against drawing general conclusions,"​ wrote lead author Vincenzo Parisi. "It is necessary to confirm our findings in a larger population and with long-term follow-up."​ AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world, according to AMD Alliance International. Despite the fact that approximately 25 to 30 million people worldwide are affected by AMD, awareness of the condition is low, according to AMD Alliance International. And as the generation of Baby Boomers gets older, the Alliance expects incidence to be on the rise and triple by 2025. AMD is a degenerative retinal disease that causes central vision loss and leaves only peripheral vision. Early detection is cited as a means of prevention so that treatment or rehabilitation can be undertaken early enough. However, links to diet have also been underscored. Parisi, from the Fondazione G. B. Bietti-Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico in Rome and co-workers from the University of Padova, recruited 27 people with non-advanced AMD (average age 69.6) and randomly assigned them to receive daily antioxidant supplements (15 subjects) or placebo (12 subjects) for 12 months. The daily antioxidant and carotenoid supplements provided 180 mg vitamin C, 30 mg vitamin E, 22.5 mg zinc, 1 mg copper, 10 mg lutein, 1 mg zeaxanthin, and 4 mg astaxanthin (AZYR SIFI, Catania, Italy). The researchers report that people in the antioxidant/ carotenoid supplement group showed improvements in the function of the central retina (zero to five degrees), while no improvements were observed in the peripheral retina (five to 20 degrees). "In non-advanced AMD eyes, a selective dysfunction in the central retina can be improved by the supplementation with carotenoids and antioxidants,"​ stated the researchers. They added that it would be useful to obtain multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG) recordings after a period of suspension of the antioxidant supplements in order to investigate if the improvements were supplement dependent. "Nevertheless, considering the beneficial functional effects of antioxidant supplementation, the suspension of supplementation with consequent exposure of the AMD patient to a possible decrease in macular function could represent an ethical problem,"​ they added. Previous studies have reported a link between AMD and lutein and zeaxanthin, found in leafy green vegetables, corn, egg yolks, squash, broccoli and peas. The carotenoids supposedly reduce the risk of AMD by absorbing blue light that could damage the macula, preventing free radicals from damaging eye cells and strengthening eye cell membranes. Source: Ophthalmology​ (Elsevier) February 2008, Volume 115, Issue 2, Pages 324-333.e2 "Carotenoids and Antioxidants in Age-Related Maculopathy Italian Study Multifocal Electroretinogram Modifications after 1 Year" ​Authors: V. Parisi, M. Tedeschi, G. Gallinaro, M. Varano, S. Saviano, S. Piermarocchi, and the CARMIS Study Group

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