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In this new study dietary antioxidants were evaluated for any relationship to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and associated pathologies in 4519 people between the ages of 60 to 80. When comparing the highest intake of Lutein and Zeaxanthin to the lowest there was a 35% decreased risk of developing neovascular or wet AMD; this is the more serious form that causes blindness. The step before the wet form is referred to as geographic atrophy with the next step being the wet form. In the geographic atrophy stage there is a circle of degeneration right in the middle of the retina. The carotenoids decrease the risk of developing this stage of AMD by 55%. Small yellow or orange dots appear among the macular cells; these are called drusen. As AMD develops the drusen multiply in number and grow larger indicating that the retina is sick. Waste accumulates in the drusen, and like a waste basket the drusen can overfill causing waste to spill out and clog the flow of nutrients to the healthy macular cells. The undernourished macular cells get very thin and disappear. Some people develop larger and larger drusen over time. The large drusen can lead to wet macular degeneration. Greater intake of the carotenoids decreases the risk of developing large drusen or extensive intermediate sized drusen by 27%. The study is published in the September 2007 issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.; In a recently published study that included 7752 older individuals having higher blood levels of Vitamin D decreased the risk of developing early stage macular degeneration by 46%. In a different study having a higher intake of fish oils decreased the risk of neovascular AMD by 39%, and a higher intake of DHA was associated with a 46% decreased risk of developing the neovascular form.