Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common condition which can causes a gradual deterioration in central vision. Over recent years there has been much research into the efficacy of Vitamin and Mineral supplements to slow down or stop this disease. The good news is that the tablets do work, but they are classed as multivitamins, rather than medicine- this means that while your doctor may recommend then, they are not available to people with medical cards under the GMS drug scheme.
There is a research project currently ongoing at Waterford Institute of Technology, where highly respected researchers are investigating varying formulations of these supplements. Until recently, the study was allocating (randomly) subjects into groups who would receive a real supplement, and others who would receive a placebo (a sugar tablet effectively). The researchers and the subjects would not be able to tell which group an individual was in until the results were collected. This is fairly standard for all drug trials, because some people who report improvements with the new trial drug actually didn’t receive it- it is to compensate for the power of the mind- if you think a drug will make you better, you may feel better, even if not receiving the drug.
The Waterford study has now been changed so that everyone participating is guaranteed to get the real supplements- they have shown such success that I suppose it would no longer be ethical to not give people the real thing. The study has been modified to look at the effects of various additional ingredients, but every trial participant will receive an AREDS2 formulation tablet.
Until now, I personally would have been hesitant to recommend this study to my patients, because there was a 50% chance they would not receive any beneficial supplement, but with the recent amendments to the protocol, that has changed. However, Waterford is a fair distance from Cavan, and there would be a requirement to attend at enrolment, where they would be examined by Ophthalmologist Professor Stephen Beatty. After acceptance there would be six monthly checkups over the duration of the trial. Which would normally last for two years.
It is a good way to receive Ocular Supplements for free, though travel expenses are not covered- if you, or someone you know has AMD or “age changes at the back of the eyes”, why not consider this study?