Zinc, Antioxidants Prevent Some Forms of Vision Loss
Unfortunately, the researchers did not find any benefit for people with no signs of AMD or for those with very mild forms of the disease.
But the researchers were able to identify certain groups of people who already had AMD that were likely to develop continued loss of vision. These are characteristics that can only be seen by your eye doctor during an exam in which your pupils are dilated.
There was good news for this group of people, who have a high risk of developing very poor vision or going blind. Among this group, those taking both antioxidants and zinc were 25% less likely to develop advanced stages of the disease. Those taking just antioxidants or zinc alone also saw some protection, though to a lesser degree.
Side effects were infrequent and minor in this study, although people taking zinc developed urinary tract infections slightly more often than others, and yellowing of the skin related to large doses of beta-carotene was reported slightly more often by people taking antioxidants.
"The supplements are not a cure for AMD, nor will they restore vision already lost from the disease," says Sieving. "But they will play a key role in helping people at high risk for developing advanced AMD keep their vision." He is director of the National Eye Institute, which sponsored the study.
So, can you just eat a healthy diet and get this same protection?
"Previous studies have suggested that people who have diets rich in green, leafy vegetables have a lower risk of developing AMD," says Frederick Ferris, MD, director of clinical research at the National Eye Institute, in a news release.
However, Ferris, who is also chairman of the group responsible for this study, says that the high levels of dietary supplements that were taken in this study are very difficult to achieve from diet alone.
The researchers suggest that anyone 55 years old and over should have their eyes examined by a doctor to look for these hidden signs of AMD. If this current study's findings hold true, antioxidants and zinc could be at least one answer for stopping further vision loss in some people.