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In Eye News This Month
After four years of study, the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS 2) was released. It found that for individuals with age-related macular degeneration, Omega 3 supplementation did not reduce the risk of vision loss. The addition of Lutein and Zeazanthine slowed the progression of vision loss by 10%. This is a lower protective effect than what we anticipated. Also important, Beta Carotene, which is included in the original formulation, was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer especially in smokers or past smokers.
As with many comprehensive studies, there is a lot of discussion on the results. For our patients, one thing is clear. Using the AREDS formulation and substituting Lutein and Zeazanthine for the Beta Carotene in the nutritional supplementation is recommended. As for Omega 3 supplements, it is very important to be on a good Omega 3 and take it at the right levels. Omega 3s are used by us, other eye doctors and many physicians for a variety of conditions. They seem to be safe and their anti-inflammatory activity has been shown to be helpful for inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Also, they may be helpful in minimizing depression. From an eye perspective, we find a benefit for patients (particularly women) who have dry eye syndrome.
So, if you are using Omega 3s solely for macular degeneration and you already have some macular degeneration, this study does not say to stop. However it does suggest there is no added preventative benefit. What is still at question is whether Omega 3s and/or anti-oxidant supplements with Lutein, Zeaxanthine and Meso Zeaxanthine are helpful to patients that show no macular degeneration changes to prevent progression to early disease. Truthfully, most of the patients taking supplements are trying minimize the possibility of developing macular changes. If that is you, then stay on your nutritional L, Z, M-Z as it still may be helpful and is well-tolerated by the body. Omega 3 supplements should be discussed individually with us regarding your eyes and possibly, your general physician regarding other body effects.