Macular degeneration remains a leading cause of blindness among older citizens. A study two decades ago showed that supplementation with a particular mix of vitamins and minerals could slow the progression of this condition. Now a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has revealed that adding omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements does not improve the results obtained with the original formula.
More than 4,000 volunteers over age 50 participated in the five-year study. The original formula had contained beta-carotene, and safety issues have surfaced about this nutrient in the years since the first study. So the scientists also tested the alternate carotenoids lutein and xeazanthin in place of beta-carotene. These seemed to work just as well, though that finding is based on analysis of a smaller group of patients in the study. It should be studied more thoroughly before lutein and xeazanthin are routinely included in supplements for slowing macular degeneration.