Good general health and proper nutrition are very important for overall eye health. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Risk factors associated with developing AMD include the following1:
The Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), a 10-year analysis conducted by the National Institutes of Health, provided valuable information regarding antioxidant therapy and AMD. The study found that high levels of antioxidants and mineral therapy can slow the progression of moderate-to-advanced AMD. The researchers concluded that patients aged 55 or older with moderate or advanced AMD, or vision loss due to AMD in 1 eye, and without contraindications (eg, smoking), would benefit from taking antioxidants and zinc.2 The recommended daily doses of these antioxidants were as follows1,2:
The results also suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation may have a protective role in AMD. Lutein and zeaxanthin are natural carotenoid pigments present in the macula at birth. These 2 supplements were not part of the AREDS analysis, but studies are ongoing to confirm their beneficial effects with regard to AMD.
A variety of formulations of nonprescription ophthalmic vitamin supplements are available on the market today to meet specific patient needs (Table). Some types are available without beta carotene, because beta carotene supplementation has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers. Pharmacists can play a vital role in patient care by providing adequate counseling to individuals regarding the proper use of these products.
Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in the northern Virginia area.
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