an older man getting his eyes examined, AMD, prevent macular degeneration, heart rate, window to your brain

As we grow older, our senses may become less sharp. Many people find it harder to hear; others find it more difficult to see clearly. One of the leading causes of impaired vision among senior citizens is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this condition, the central portion of the retina (the macula) degrades. Eventually, people with AMD find it difficult to focus properly on details in the center of their visual fields. Reading or driving may become impossible. No wonder some readers would like to learn how to prevent macular degeneration.

Will Dietary Supplements Prevent Macular Degeneration?

Q. Is there a good supplement for preventing macular degeneration?

A. A systematic review of the research suggests that vitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent age-related macular degeneration (Evans & Lawrenson, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 30, 2017). On the other hand, a large placebo-controlled study, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), showed that a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc could slow progression of this condition, which can lead to blindness (JAMA, May 15, 2013). Unfortunately, this supplement did not prevent macular degeneration in people who had not already begun to develop the condition.

Staying physically active, not smoking and following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern appear to help prevent macular degeneration (Carneiro & Andrade, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, online Jan. 5, 2017). You can’t change your genes, which convey some of the risk of developing AMD. However, people who followed a Mediterranean-type diet with lots of leafy green vegetables and more fish than meat were less likely to see their AMD progress (Merle et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov. 2015).

Should You Take AREDS2 Formula Supplements?

A review found that genetic factors strongly influence whether or not these supplements help delay or prevent macular degeneration (Rojas-Fernandez & Tyber, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, March 2017). Consequently, the best advice is to ask your eye doctor if you have begun to develop macular degeneration. If so, genetic testing might guide you in choosing whether supplements are likely to be effective.

Learn More:

We discussed AMD and other visual disorders with Dr. Peter McDonnell. You may wish to listen to the interview.

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  1. Ellen

    I friend told me that her eye doctor recommended RAW kale for MD treatment/prevention. She showed me a chart her eye doc had given her that showed how much of a certain micro-nutrient that was preventative (can’t remember the name!) was in various greens.

    There was some in most greens and in cooked kale, but raw kale had way more of it than anything else.

  2. Lena
    Woburn, MA

    I forgot to add to my recent reply.

    I also take Preservision Areds2 supplements. Was taking Centrum Silver multi-vitamin for a few years; I recently asked my PCP if I really needed it, based on my very healthy diet. He said I could stop taking it. So I did.

    My opinion- a lot of the over-the-counter vitamin supplements are not the best choice, because of the junk ingredients. Read the label and compare. There are healthier natural vitamins on market. Sundown, I believe, is a natural type brand. Best thing to do is eat a very healthy diet with a LOT of vegetables, whether you like them or not, to SAVE your eyesight. The other morning I ate a large salad (lot of veges) for breakfast, not because I was craving it or enjoy eating it, but because I want to keep my AMD from progressing.

  3. joanne

    In 2011 I was diagnosed with AMD at age 57. I had a course of Lucentis and 2 courses of Avastin. My vision was restored to 95 percent. Unfortunately the surgeon did not recommend supplements .
    I wish now that somebody would have advised otherwise .

  4. Irma M

    About 6 mo ago my opt dr told me “your cateract is not your problem, you have macula degeneration” . I looked in my Homeopathic book . That was no help. So far I have stopped the waterey eyes, glass in eyes, floaters,.lids stuck shut and pain in eyes. Then I read about Saffron, It seems to be helping some with bright lights. Then a cousin sent this info and I would like to be a part of it.

  5. Irma M

    I am so glad to have some one to share with that isn/t out to sell something..About 6 mo ago I went to my opt Dr and he said.” your cateract is not the problem, you have macula degeration. I went home and had a good cry then went to my homeopathic book and that was no help.. Im 86 but I need to live for at least 15 years to take care of my Fragil X son. so here I am reading about others and what they have done. WOW I would like to join or what ever I need to do to get info from each each other.

  6. Phyllis H

    I was dx with AMD at the age of 69. It is not in my family and I was shocked as I had watched my father in law for 20 years live with the complete loss of vision due to wet AMD. I bought the books about how to save your site. I quit eating gluten (which I read is causative through nutrient loss from malabsorption). I also cut the sugar to nearly nothing. I rearranged my diet to include more fruits and vegetables and fish when I could find or afford it. I lost weight and continued the improved eating plan for the following 5 years. My eye Dr. who initially told me that I could lose my vision any day now tells me that I will probably outlive the loss of vision.

  7. Cindy B
    seattle, WA

    GOOD GRIEF! I cannot believe a discussion of macular degeneration would not include “BILBERRY!!” At least 15 years ago, I gradually noticed that a circular area was beginning to form in the center of my vision which looked kinda blurry and wiggly, and more “washed out” than the rest of the visual field. Macular degeneration!

    Well, I immediately went down and got a bottle of bilberry (a herb, very safe and without side effects), and started taking it. I just took what the package instructions recommended.

    WELL, that circular place soon went away, and now at 70, I have absolutely no macular degeneration of any kind. That was the end of it!

    I urge anybody who’s developing macular degeneration to start taking bilberry. It works.

  8. Patricia

    Very sorry, the MacuHealth costs $75. for 90 day supply.

    • Lena
      Woburn, MA

      Thanks for the advice of Bilberry. I read that somewhere else, but never bought any. But now I will. I was diagnosed with wet AMD in left eye about 2 years ago at age 64, and then my right eye turned wet next year and half. I get regular injections in both eyes, not at same time. I am doing everything possible to save my eyesight. Injections, no wheat/grain/sugar diet, low carbs, lots of green leafy vegetables, no more than 1 cup daily low glycemic fruiits (the berries), wild salmon, antiobiotic free chicken, kale shakes, organic grassfred beef, grassfed eggs, grassfed butter, organic valley half and half for coffee, walnuts, pecans, almonds. Just bought recumbent bike to exercise in my home. Also try to walk every day. Walking is great for AMD. I belong to a public facebook Macular Degeneration group, where I learn so much. Hope my story helps others.

  9. Patricia
    Melbourne, FL

    About 15 years ago my eye doctor told me that one eye had the start of macular degeneration in one eye (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worse, he said it was 1/2). He recommended eye vitamins and 6 mg Lutein, which I started to take daily immediately. After 10 years of six month check ups, with no change, I now have check ups annually. At check up last month, still with no change, he suggested I consider changing from the eye vitamin and Lutein to MacuHealth. It is pricely, but I have started taking it daily. I am thinking of alternately taking that for one month and back to the eye vitamin and Lutein for a month. The MacuHealth costs $75. a month, regardless of from the doctor or on-line.

  10. Malcolm

    I have retinal damage in one eye from a car wreck long ago. 15 years ago I went to an ophthalmologist due to getting some lacquer droplets in my bad eye and getting my vision blanked out in that eye. He fixed it with drops and gave me a macular degeneration grid test and a grid to take home and I saw some wavy lines. He said MD had started and I could slow its progress by taking 20mg Lutein daily. I did that. Three years later I looked at that chart and the lines are all straight. I use the chart ever few months and the lines stay straight.

  11. Emily

    Eighteen months ago, I developed a blurry spot in the center of my vision in my right eye. I went to see my ophthalmologist to see if she could ascertain the problem, but at the time of my exam, my macula was healthy. She was at a loss to explain what was causing the loss of vision. A few months later, I took a vitamin A supplement for another health issue, and after a few days, the blurry spot in my vision disappeared. Interestingly, the ocular migraines that I had been suffering from a few years before when doing work that required a lot of close focus also disappeared.

    It might be that my macula was not involved in this problem, but it was interesting that the blurry spot was in the center of my vision. I wonder if it’s possible that this was an early sign of deterioration. Because vitamin A is fat soluble, and therefore it’s possible to suffer negative effects from taking too much, vitamin A is rarely recommended for OTC use. However, perhaps the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater, and perhaps there are valid uses for this vitamin, which has been associated with eye health for quite some time. I started with 25,000 units then reduced my daily intake to 10,000 units once my vision improved.

    Vitamin A is found in highest concentration in orange-colored fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloup, apricots, sweet red peppers, etc., so it might be possible to use diet to stave off problems without worrying about getting too much. Because there is macular degeneration in my family, I also take bilberry and zeaxanthin with lutein as supplements. But these alone did not cause the blurry spot to disappear.

  12. Calista
    Dorothy NJ

    My Dad had macular degeneration & I was diagnosed with it 4 yrs. ago, but I have been taking bilberry extract along with the lutein+ vitamins & now the eye specialists tell me it is hardly discernable that I have the degeneration. We also eat a healthy diet of lots of fresh veggies from our own garden, have fish 2x weekly & don’t eat much red meat. My sister was diagnosed with the macular degeneration before me & hers got worse & now she is taking the vitamins & it hasn’t progressed any more.

  13. Pam

    Both my biological parents had macular degeneration. Before she died, my mother had
    periodic injections in one eye, supposedly to stop progression of the disease before
    total blindness. The injections were very painful for her for a couple days after each shot.
    Because I understand that macular degeneration is genetic, I take Lutein supplements.
    At 68, have no sign of this disease yet. Also, I eat 90% plant-based which I would like to
    think will help/delay my getting macular degeneration. It can’t hurt; it may help.
    Time will tell, but I like feeling that I am doing some things to help myself.

  14. Mandi

    My neighbour who has macular degeneration was advised to eat leafy green vegetables, especially kale. She followed the advice and ate kale every day, and the progression of the disease was halted. I know it is true because I grow kale for her. It is several years since the eye hospital said they no longer needed to see her.

    • Pam

      Mandi what age person was the neighbor that ate kale every day ? Also was it dry or wet macular ?
      How much kale would you say she ate each day ? Thank you pam

  15. Terri

    I keep reading from lots of sources that the Mediterranean way of eating prevents lots of diseases when it is truly followed. It does not include sugary foods or sugary drinks.

    • diane
      Door County, Wi.

      Thank you for you information. Am going to start eating kale tomorrow and maybe I will have improvement. If not, I know kale is good for you anyway.
      Thanks for sharing.

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