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AMD Symptoms May Be Relieved by These Carotenoids

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 55. If you're concerned about damage that might already have been done to your eyes, then this new study from the Veterans Association Hospital in Chicago has good news: supplements of zeaxanthin and supplements of lutein may improve symptoms of AMD.

The study was published in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Optometric Association.

Lutein and zeaxanthin create the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long term damage.

Participants in the study included 60 war veterans with an average age of 74.9 years, all with mild to moderate AMD. In a randomized, double-blind trial the participants were separated into three groups:

1. One group received 8 mg of zeaxanthin daily

2. One group received 9 mg of lutein daily

3. One group received a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin

Vision tests were conducted at the 4 month, 6 month, 8 month marks and at the conclusion of the study after one year.

All of the groups showed improvement in vision, as could be seen in their improved ability to drive at night and improved eye chart reading between 1.5 and 8.5 lines. Blind spots also improved.

Interestingly, the group receiving the combination supplement of zeaxanthin and lutein showed less improvement in terms of raising macula pigment optical density (MPOD). The higher the MPOD , the greater the amount of blue light filtering that will occur.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids able to build macular pigment. If your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, or if you smoke cigarettes and regularly consumer alcohol, you are at higher risk for developing AMD. Consider consuming more green vegetables, corn, and egg yolk to increase your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin.

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