Last post (Read Part I) was about vitamins and their role as defined by the AREDS 1 study. In short, a vitamin formulation containing antioxidants (vitamins C and E), beta-carotene and zinc have been proven to be effective in patients with intermediate or advanced macular degeneration. This AREDS formulation reduces the chances of a patient with macular degeneration from developing the wet form of ARMD. That’s all. It doesn’t get you better.
Today, I would like to address the possible dietary changes that could either slow down the disease or, perhaps, improve the vision and disease. The data from the AREDS 1 study was released almost a year ago. This data was released to the scientific public, and, anyone with the right credentials may analyze the data collected from the over 4000 individuals included in the original study. The data includes detailed specifics about every patient’s dietary habits upon entering the study. Since the release of the data, last year, many reports have emerged that have correlated dietary habits with positive visual outcomes over the course of the disease. Warning: these are not true studies, but possible associations.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Fish
Eating foods high in omega 3 fatty acids is good for your heart and may be good for your eyes, too. Many reports have linked omega 3 fatty acids to a reduction in the progression of geographic atrophy (a common severe form of dry macular degeneration). There may also be a protective effect against the wet form of ARMD as well. Deep sea, or cold water, fish are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Examples included mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies (with the pizza?). Tuna also contains omega 3’s.
Omega 3’s are going to tested in AREDS 2 (more tomorrow). Current recommendations included eating 1-2 servings per week. There may be no advantage to eating more
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Nuts and Oils
Certain nuts such as walnuts, hazel and pecans contain these fatty acids. Flax-seed oil is also a great source.
Lutein/zeaxanthin were found to be associated inversely with development of neovascular macular degeneration and atrophic macular degeneration. Sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include eggs, kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn,garden peas and Brussels sprouts. It is likely that lutein and zeaxanthin will be proven to be beneficial. This, too, will be answered by AREDS 2.
Read Part 1.
Next Post: The AREDS 2 Study. What will it answer?
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist