If every American at risk for advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) took daily supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, more than 300,000 people could avoid AMD-associated vision loss, according to results of a new government study.

Reporting on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) supported by the US National Eye Institute, a team of Johns Hopkins opthalmologists and other scientists estimate there are 8 million people in the United States age 55 or older at high risk for advanced AMD who could benefit from daily vitamin supplementation. They include people with intermediate stage of AMD in one or both eyes, or advanced AMD in one eye. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries.

The original AREDS investigation, of 4,757 adults ages 55 to 80 with varying levels of AMD, showed that among people at high risk for late-stage AMD and central vision blindness in both eyes, a dietary supplement of vitamins C, E and beta carotene along with zinc lowered the risk of progressing to advanced diseases by 25%. Daily supplements also reduced the risk of vision loss by about 19%.

"Without treatment to reduce their risk, we estimate that 1.3 million adults would develop the advanced stage of AMD", says Neil Bressler, MD, lead author of the current study, and professor of opthalmology at Hopkins.

The supplements recommended contain 500mg of vitamin C, 400mg of vitamin E, 15mg of beta carotene, 80mg of zinc as zinc oxide and 2mg of copper as cupric oxide.

Source: CAM magazine, Vol 3, Issue 5