Researchers at the University at Buffalo recently discovered that vitamin D may play a significant role in eye health, specifically in the possible prevention of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, among women who are more genetically prone to developing the sight-damaging disease.
In a paper published in JAMA Ophthalmology online, the University at Buffalo researchers found that women who are deficient in vitamin D and have a specific high-risk genotype (a specific part of their DNA) are 6.7 times more likely to develop AMD than women with sufficient vitamin D status and no high risk genotype. The vitamin D supplementation being a key factor in both groups of women.
Macular degeneration is characterized by the deterioration of the macula, a small part of the central retina where the eye’s photoreceptors (rods and cones) are most highly concentrated. The leading cause of legal blindness, macular degeneration affects more than 10 million Americans — more than cataracts and glaucoma combined — according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. The disease affects a person’s central vision, which is needed for common tasks such as reading and driving. The effect is similar to that of a rain drop on the center of a camera lens.
To get vitamin D from sunlight, for many people, 15 to 30 minutes a day with 10 percent of their skin exposed might be sufficient. In winter months, when there is a lower solar angle, sun exposure may not be not sufficient to maintain blood level for people who live north of a line from about Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. At these times and locations, dietary intake may be needed. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified foods such as milk and foods that naturally contain vitamin D such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
Inflammation may be the answer
Vitamin D shows promise for protecting against macular degeneration because of its anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic properties; antiangiogenic refers to slowing the growth of new blood vessels, often seen in late stages of AMD.
New evidence from a paper being published in June 2016 supports higher levels vitamin D as being a factor in preventing AMD and low concentrations as being associated with late AMD.1
Melatonin for Macular Degeneration
In recent research, Melatonin was cited as it prevented the structural and functional changes in retina cells, reduced the severity of microcirculatory disorders and prevented destruction of neurosensory cells, associative and gangliolar neurons in the retina, thus highlighting the therapeutic potential of Melatonin for treatment and prevention of age related Macular Degeneration.2 New research confirms Melatonin’s protective role in the retina.3
Antioxidants for Macular Degeneration
In other research zinc oxide combined with a detergent extract of rosemary powder or rosemary oil was found effective in treating eye damage related to age related Macular Degeneration.
- Generally speaking, people who have high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, C, betacarotene, zinc and selenium are at much lower risk of developing this condition.
- Eating a diet rich in phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables can help you to maintain healthy eyes. People with age-related macular degeneration generally consume far fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than those without it.
- Phytonutrients such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are particularly helpful in retarding macular degeneration. (In fact, consuming 30 mg of lutein will increase your blood level of the substance by tenfold.)
Consuming generous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, stopping smoking and avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight are all important factors in reducing your risk of macular degeneration.
We have had good success with using an intravenous formula to macular degeneration. It contains many antioxidants along with minerals and an amino acid known as taurine.
- Taurine is a very powerful antioxidant, which is of specific benefit to the eye. Taurine may also be beneficial for the heart. We have treated several patients who have suffered decreased loss of vision due to macular degeneration
If you have vision loss that is due to macular degeneration, please consult Dr. Magaziner or Dr. Greenberg in order to find out if the intravenous treatment would be beneficial for you.
1 Annweiler C, Drouet M, Duval GT, Paré PY, Leruez S, Dinomais M, Milea D. Circulating vitamin D concentration and age-related macular degeneration: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Maturitas. 2016 Jun;88:101-12. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.04.002. Epub 2016 Apr 2. Review.
2. Stefanova NA, Zhdankina AA, Fursova AZh, Kolosova NG. [Potential of melatonin for prevention of age-related macular degeneration: experimental study]. Adv Gerontol. 2013;26(1):122-9.
3. Gianesini C, Hiragaki S, Laurent V, Hicks D, Tosini G. Cone Viability Is Affected by Disruption of Melatonin Receptors Signaling. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Jan 1;57(1):94-104. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18235.