Actress Judi Dench, recently playing M, 007’s MI5 boss in Skyfall, spoke candidly last year about her fight to beat macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that is the leading cause of blindness and central vision loss among adults over the age of 65. Judi says she has dry AMD in one eye and wet AMD in the other. She hopes the injections she has received will stop the progressive decline of her of her sight.
“These injections that block vascular endothelial growth factor also referred to as anti-VEGF injections, have been the most important advancement we have made in treating AMD,” says Dr. Amjad Hammad, Retina Specialist in Saratoga Springs, New York.
In a new Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2), led by the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute, the nutritional supplements lutein and zeaxanthin show promise to reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD. “This is the large study we’ve been waiting for,” Dr. Hammad went on to say. “We needed to determine if beta-carotene is actually helping our patients and if lutein, zeaxanthin or omega-3 fatty acids could reduce risk of developing AMD.”
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the major components of macular pigment. Although several studies have suggested that higher dietary levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with a lower risk of AMD, the research has been especially limited. Beta-carotene has previously been recommended, however, it has also been linked to a heightened risk of lung cancer in smokers. This five-year study launched in 2006 sought to determine the combined effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation on retinal function in patients with early AMD compared to beta-carotene or omega-3’s.
“The results demonstrate that discontinuing beta-carotene supplements and taking a combined supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin is an effective dietary change in reducing the risk of macular dysfunction in the central retina for early AMD patients,” says Dr. Hammad. The National Eye Institute also noted that removing beta-carotene removes the risk to smokers. Additionally, adding omega-3 fatty acids or lowering zinc had no effect on AMD progression.
Dr. Hammad is an internationally recognized retina specialist treating patients with diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. To learn more, you may download a free copy of Dr. Hammad’s new book, “Keeping Your Retina Healthy: A Guide To Retina Conditions, Treatments & Choosing A Retina Specialist” on his website, www.SaratogaRetina.com or call his office at 518-580-0553. Contact: Dr. Amjad Hammad, DrHammad@SaratogaRetina.com, 518-580-0553