Do Vitamin Supplements Prevent Macular Degeneration?

Vitamin and mineral supplements won’t prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration. But there is some evidence taking supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration in those who already have it. This evidence comes from two major systematic reviews published this year, conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration.

The reason researchers thought about testing dietary supplements for eye disease relates to how the eyes convert light into sight. Light gets absorbed into pigments in the retina at the back of the eye. This process produces byproducts called free radicals.

Anti-oxidants are nutrients that absorb free radicals and include vitamin A, C and E, the minerals zinc and selenium, and many phytonutrients found in edible plants including vegetables and fruit.

The first review looked at people who already had age-related macular degeneration and includes research published up until March 2017. Nine studies compared people taking vitamin supplements to those either not taking them or being given a placebo (dummy) capsule for periods of time from nine months to six years.

They found the vitamin supplements were associated with 28% lower odds of progressing to late-stage macular degeneration. The studies that compared zinc supplements to a placebo found a 17% lower risk of progressing to late-stage macular degeneration.

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