Ever since the results of the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS) came out in 2001, we have known that diet and nutrition play a significant role in protecting your macula.
High levels of certain vitamins and zinc can reduce the risk of progression of macular degeneration by around 25%. But what do we really need to take to see results?
When these results appeared, we began to see supplements in the form of tablets containing lutein and zeazanthin – the antioxidants that make up the yellow macular protein that gives the structure its proper name (macula lutea translates from Latin meaning ‘yellow spot’).
Long term use of these supplements has been shown to be safe as well as protective against progression of the disease. Results of the follow up study (AREDS 2) showed just how beneficial and effective these supplements were. The formula was altered to provide the best effect and highest safety profile, e.g. the amount of zinc was lowered but still produced the same effect. This led to the current formula for macular support that is available today in supplement form.
The antioxidants that protect the macula are present in food, but just how much do we need to eat to get a similar effect?
To get similar levels of antioxidants to what is in the supplements, you would have to eat 1 kg of broccoli per day! In fact, broccoli is much lower in these nutrients than other green leafy vegetables such as kale (the hands-down winner) or spinach, so choose your greens carefully.
A balanced approach is to eat for macular health and include plenty of green, leafy vegetables, yellow / orange fruits and vegetables, eggs and natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids (such as oily fish, fish oil or flax oil).
Macular supplements contain just the right amounts of C and E vitamins along with zinc, lutein and zeazanthin to support your macular health. While you can get these micronutrients from other sources, it is useful to have everything combined in a once-a-day formula.
Always consult with your GP or optometrist before taking any dietary supplements. They are not contraindicated for any medication, but can be an issue if you are already taking Vitamin E supplements.
Concerned about your macular health? The Eye Practice offers screening for macular disease, including MP II Macular Pigment screening. Call (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online today.