In the preceding post we discussed the need and the rationale for supplementation. We pointed out that the retina has a very high metabolic rate and is very susceptible to oxidative stress. We also pointed out that most adults eating the Standard American Diet (SAD are deficient in the nutrients needed to neutralize the free radicals produced by oxidation. A reasonable question to ask is whether there is any hard data that that proves the effectiveness of micronutrients in reducing the incidence of macular degeneration. The answer is yes.
There have been two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies know as AREDS1 and AREDS2. These studies were designed to study the effect of diet and nutrition on the progression of age-related macular degeneration in patients who already have the disease.
What did we learn from these studies on the 3640 patients who qualified for the AMD study? In our opinion the most important finding was those patients who ate the Standard American Diet high in red meat, processed meats, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, refined grains and eggs were at a significant increased risk for developing AMD compared to those patients who ate the Asian diet high in the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes and seafood.
The conclusion of the studies was that a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fish was sufficient to delay the onset of AMD. Dietary supplements should be given to patients who have a high genetic risk for developing macular degeneration and to those who do not eat an adequate diet.
We are frequently asked whether the AREDS formulation should be taken for general eye health if there are no anatomic risk factors for developing AMD. The answer to this an emphatic no. Pills are not a substitude for a healthy diet