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Supplements And Age-Related Eye Disease

El Centro, California (NAPSI) - There could be good news for many people who take vitamins  and other nutritional supplements to help protect their health.

A new study  from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) helps clarify which are most  effective and safe for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a  common eye disease among people age 50 and over.

The Problem

AMD breaks down cells in the back of the eye that provide sharp central  vision, necessary for reading, driving and recognizing faces. Advanced AMD  can lead to significant vision loss and is a leading cause of blindness in  the United States.  About 2 million Americans have advanced AMD; another 8 million are at risk.  Smoking is a major risk factor.

The Good News

Fortunately, the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) Age-Related Eye  Disease Study (AREDS) found that a combination of vitamins C and E,  beta-carotene and the minerals zinc and copper-called the AREDS  formulation-can help reduce the risk of advanced AMD by 25 percent.

The Latest News

In a follow-up study, AREDS2, the researchers discovered that adding  omega-3 fatty acids didn’t really help; neither did adding lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin together,  however, proved to be a safe and effective substitute for beta-carotene, which  has been linked to lung cancer risk in smokers.

Doctors’ Advice

Study findings show a link between beta-carotene use and lung cancer risk  not only for smokers but even for former smokers. “Adding lutein and zeaxanthin in place  of beta-carotene could improve the AREDS formulation for both smokers and  nonsmokers,” said lead investigator Emily Chew, M.D.

“Millions of older Americans take nutritional supplements to protect  their sight without clear guidance regarding benefit and risk,” said  NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.

Many risk factors contribute to AMD, including age, genetics and diet.  People over 60 should get a dilated eye exam at least once a year and consult  an eye care professional before using AREDS supplements.

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