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Supplements Reduce Risk of Vision Loss
30 April 2003
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor

For patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), supplementing with high levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduce the risk of vision loss, according to Dr. Emily Chew in a recent presentation at a conference sponsored by the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

As reported in Archives of Ophthalmology, a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc reduced vision loss by up to 25 percent in patients with intermediate or advanced AMD in one eye. No benefit was shown for patients without AMD or with early AMD.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study looked at 4757 patients between the ages of 55 and 80. Patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups, receiving supplements of

  • zinc only
  • antioxidants only
  • antioxidants and zinc
  • placebo

Daily intake levels of these supplements were

  • 500 mg vitamin C
  • 400 IU vitamin E
  • 15 mg beta carotene
  • 80 mg zinc (as zinc oxide)
  • 2 mg copper (as cupric oxide)

The study also checked for any impact on cataracts. Dr. Chew said, "Essentially we found no effect of this supplementation on cataracts or visual acuity."

An ophthalmologist can easily see if a person is at risk for AMD by dilating the pupils during an eye exam and looking for the presence of drusen—which are yellow deposits under the retina. Drusen itself does not cause vision loss, but increases in the quantity or size of drusen raises the risk of developing advanced AMD.


Kerri Wachter. "Macular degeneration: Supplements reduce risk of vision loss." Family Practice News, International Medical News Group, 15 February 2003 (www2.eFamilyPracticeNews.com). Originally reported in Arch. Ophthalmol. 119[10]:1417-36, 2001.end-of-story


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