Duke Study Shows Need For Nutrition In Confronting Growth In Age-Related Eye Diseases

DES MOINES, IOWA (Sept. 19, 2003) – With a new Duke University study (1) showing a significant increase in common age-related eye disease among older Americans, preventive approaches to eye health are more important than ever.

Several research reports have suggested the antioxidant lutein, found abundantly in dark green leafy vegetables and in a variety of supplements and fortified foods, may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among older Americans who have a higher risk of developing the disease.

In one Harvard study, (2) a diet of 6 milligrams of lutein per day led to a 57 percent lower prevalence of AMD, leading the study's authors to suggest a diet high in lutein to lower the risk of contracting AMD.

"Lutein's ability to filter blue light and quench molecular free radicals appears to play a role in maintaining healthy macular pigment and reducing oxidative stress in the eye's retina, which has been linked to AMD," said Rodney Ausich, Ph.D., president of Kemin Foods, L.C., the leading global producer of purified FloraGLO lutein used in supplements, foods and beverages.

AMD has been recognized as the leading cause of legal blindness in people age 50 and over in the western world. An estimated 25 million to 30 million people worldwide are afflicted with AMD, according to AMD Alliance International, a leading advocacy group supporting global AMD consumer education, research and treatment.

(Simulation of AMD progression)

Findings of the Duke study indicate the prevalence of AMD among U.S. residents age 65 and older increased from 5 percent to 27.1 percent between 1991 and 1999. "With a growing baby boom population experiencing a higher rate of AMD and the lifestyle hardships that come with it, protective measures that include nutritional approaches are extremely important," said Ausich.

A Kemin-commissioned random-sample survey of 300 U.S. eye doctors last year found 91 percent believe nutrition plays a role in development of common eye diseases, and that lutein plays an important role in promoting eye health. Other lifestyle and demographic factors believed to increase the risk of AMD include age, exposure to sunlight, smoking, alcohol consumption, heredity, gender, race, eye color (blue or green) and heart disease.

About Kemin Foods and lutein
Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, Kemin Foods is involved in the science and production of FloraGLO brand lutein, a leading natural antioxidant used in hundreds of vitamin and dietary supplement, food, beverage and cosmetic products around the world.

The company is part of Kemin Industries Inc., with manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Texas, Belgium, India, Singapore and Thailand. To learn more about lutein, visit www.luteininfo.com.

1. Lee, P.P., Feldman, Z. W., Ostermann, J., Brown, D.S., Sloan, F.A., (2003) "Longitudinal prevalence of major eye diseases." Arch Ophthalmol 121:1303-1310. http://archopht.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/121/9/1303
2. Seddon, J. M., U. A. Ajani, et al. (1994). "Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration." Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group Jama 272(18):1413-20.
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