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Supplements can slow age-related macular degeneration

An over the counter vitamin supplement may dramatically slow the progress of a leading cause of vision loss in older Australians, research reveals.

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australians aged 50 and over. It’s estimated more than 1.8 million older Australians are living with the condition.

What is AMRD?

AMRD is caused by damage to nerves in your eye, and can cause blurred vision and loss of vision in the centre of what you would normally see.

This makes it hard to drive, read and see people’s faces. In severe cases the person may become legally blind.

Read: Eight good habits to improve your vision and eye health

There are two main types of macular degeneration. The first, known as ‘dry’ degeneration, develops slowly and causes gradual vision loss. It is caused by the gradual loss of cells in the retina. It is the most common form of the disease.

The second type, known aswet’ degeneration, leads to rapid loss of central vision. It happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macular and leak blood and fluid. This is the most serious kind.

How is it treated?

There is no treatment for the dry type of macular degeneration, but a treatment for wet degeneration exists in the form of regular injections in your eyes using an ultra-fine needle.

People receiving this treatment typically get injections every four to 12 weeks, depending on the level of degeneration.

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Can anything be done to prevent AMRD?

Fortunately, studies have shown some ordinary vitamin supplements, as well as AMRD-specific supplements, can be effective in slowing the advancement of the disease.

Dietary supplements containing lutein have been shown to reduce AMRD symptoms, as well as omega-3 fish oil.

In 2012, a large-scale eye study known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) was carried out in the United States.

From that study, a number of supplement formulations were found to be successful in slowing the advancement of AMRD. These formulations have since gone into production for public consumption and are known as AREDS2 supplements.

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AREDS2 supplements are not a cure for AMRD and it’s important to note they can’t reverse damage already caused by the disease.

You may benefit from these supplements if you have intermediate stage AMRD in one or both eyes, to help lower your risk of it progressing to late AMRD or if you have late-stage AMD (dry or wet) in one eye only, to help lower your risk of developing it in the other eye.

AREDS2 supplements don’t prevent AMRD, so they’re not recommended if you don’t have the disease.

Do you suffer from AMRD? Were you aware of the existence of AREDS2 supplements? Let us know in the comments section below.

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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