Macular Pigment Density and Dietary Supplements

Dry AMD It has been accepted for a while now that dietary supplements containing antioxidant vitamins and minerals can have a significant benefit to slowing down the progression of Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It has also been noted that certain pigments which are found in a normal macula (the area at the back of the eye responsible for acute vision) become depleted in AMD patients.

These pigments have a protective mechanism- they are also antioxidants, and their colour seems to filter out some of the more damaging rays which might reach the retina. Many tablet supplements have for a long time included these pigments in their formula, on the assumption that restoring these pigments to the macular area must be a good thing. There has been a long term debate whether ingesting these pigments in a tablet would have any beneficial effect- would they even be deposited back in the macula??

A recent study in Germany found that supplements do increase the amount of pigments in the blood stream, and that they do also deposit in the macular area. The next investigation is to establish if replacing these macular pigments is actually of any benefit- is the loss of pigment a result of AMD or the cause?

Studies are continuing- around the world and in Ireland to look at the effects of these pigments in both healthy eyes and in eyes with AMD, but for the moment we would recommend that tablet supplements containing anti-oxidant vitamins, minerals and pigments do seem to have enough of a benefit to advise their use, if there are early signs of Macular problems.

A healthy diet rich in the “superfood” -fruits, nuts, fish and vegetables may be another, perhaps better option for prevention- they say you shouldn’t throw multivitamins at a bad diet!

The German report can be found here- you may need to register (it is free) or login to see it.

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