Study in Optometry Journal Examines Role of Vitamins in Macular Degeneration - Alliance Calls for Further Study

TORONTO, Apr 7, 2004 -- According to a study published in today's Optometry - Journal of the American Optometric Association, lutein supplementation may help improve vision for people who have "dry" age-related macular degeneration - the most prevalent form of the disease. The LAST (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial) study is the first to record actual improvement in several key visual functions among patients with AMD.

"The findings strongly indicate the need for larger studies involving more participants over a longer period to ascertain more definitive findings. However, we encourage people with AMD to discuss nutrition strategies with their doctor now and consider whether taking a vitamin supplement containing lutein might be right for them," said Gerrard Grace, Chair AMD Alliance International. "This is important because although further study about lutein will take place, we do know from the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) conducted by the National Eye Institute, that there is a beneficial effect of supplementation with vitamins C,E , beta-carotene, zinc -all combined in one pill. This study demonstrated a 25% reduction in progression of AMD over 5 years."

AMD can make seniors lose their independence by making everyday activities, such as reading, driving and seeing loved ones, difficult or impossible. As many as six million Americans have vision loss because of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and worldwide as many as 30 million people have AMD. The number of people with this untreatable disease is expected to double by 2030.

The exact cause of AMD is unknown, but risk factors for the disease include age, blue eyes and light hair/skin, high fat diets, and smoking. The symptoms for people with advanced AMD include:

-- straight lines in the field of vision, such as telephone
poles, appear wavy;

-- type in books, magazines and newspapers appears blurry; and

-- dark or empty spaces may block the center of vision.

Lutein is a naturally occurring molecule found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens. In the LAST study, 90 AMD patients were supplemented daily with a capsule containing 10 mg of crystalline FloraGLO lutein, an OcuPower supplement of 10 mg crystalline lutein plus a mixed antioxidant formula, or placebo for 12 months.

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