Quinn on Nutrition: Clearing up eye health research findings

December 19, 2016

Dear Readers,

My recent column on nutrient formulas for eye health got some good feedback from you. Here are some excerpts that may help us see a little more clearly:

Greetings from Australia,

While I agree with the bulk of your article regarding nutrition and eye health, I disagree that an AREDS or AREDS2 supplement (nutrient formulas tested in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study and its followup) is indicated for the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The only evidence demonstrating the value of AREDS supplementation is for people who already have intermediate stage AMD in either eye (to reduce the risk of developing late stage disease) or those who have late stage AMD in one eye only ó to reduce the risk of developing late stage disease in the other eye.

The original AREDS study was unable to show any benefit of supplementation as a preventative in people with no AMD or just the very earliest signs of AMD. In other words, AREDS supplementation can be useful to help slow down existing disease but there is no evidence that it can prevent it.

For people with no AMD or just the earliest signs, the recommendation should be to eat an eye-friendly diet which includes fish two to three times a week and lots of fruit and vegetables, including leafy greens. Quitting smoking, engaging in regular exercise, keeping weight down and wearing a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses when outside is also recommended.

I hope this is of some help.

Rob Cummins, Director Research and Policy

Macular Disease Foundation Australia

Thanks for this clarification, Rob. And itís another reminder to listen to the recommendations of our own eye docs.



We always enjoy your column. We had backed off on Vitamin E based on information circulated a couple of years ago. I assume you see no problem in taking 400 IU. Is there a multivitamin available that has all, or most, of the items listed (in the AREDS and AREDS2 formulas)?

óRich amd Diana H.

Dear Rich and Diana,

I assume you are referring to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011. It reported that 400 IUís of vitamin E daily (the amount used in the AREDS and AREDS2 studies) significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. Yet this study also found that men who took selenium (an antioxidant nutrient) along with vitamin E had no increase in prostate cancer risk.

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) mentioned in my column, men who took 400 IUís of vitamin E daily along with other antioxidant nutrients had no increase in their risk for prostate cancer, according to an analysis by the National Eye Institute. Confused? Take your doctorís advice on this one.

And if you want the nutrition concoction used in the AREDS and AREDS2 studies, look for formulations from reputable companies that note "AREDS" or "AREDS2" on their labels.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services