Light and images travel into the eye through the pupil, finally focusing on the internal wall of the eye, known as the retina. The center area of the retina that provides the details of vision that allow us to read and distinguish facial features is known as the macula. As we age, the macula inside our eyes is vulnerable to degenerative changes that can affect our ability to see these precious details. The condition is called Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and it is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the Western Hemisphere.
The hallmark of AMD is a clinical sign called drusen. These are small collections of proteins and lipids, or fatty tissue. They build up in the area underneath the macula, pushing upwards, creating a viewing surface inside the eye that is no longer flat. When the macula accumulates enough of these bumps the result is blurred or distorted vision.
The early forms of this condition are called “dry” macular degeneration. Although not usually rapidly progressive, it can cause severe vision loss. Some patients progress to “wet” or exudative macular degeneration, in which there is bleeding beneath the retina with rapidly progressive vision loss.
Research by the National Eye Institute demonstrated that high-dose nutritional supplementation with large quantities of antioxidants can slow the progression of macular degeneration. And more recent research has shown that large quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin can improve vision and the appearance of the retina in macular degeneration.* Fish oil and Omege-3 fatty acids found in green leafy vegetables have also shown beneficial effects for macular health.
Will taking supplements prevent eye disease?
In the absence of any disease, there is no research published that shows that taking vitamins can prevent it. However, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) study did show, if there was disease in only one eye, that taking proper supplements prevented or slowed the progress of the disease in the opposite eye.
We now have these supplemental vitamins available at all five Midwest Eye Associates locations to help slow any progression of macular diease.