Since the groundbreaking age-related eye disease study was published early last decade, a lot of secondary research including a sequel to the original study has been undertaken. The goal has been to find which dietary supplements can help fight against age related macular degeneration – a leading cause of blindness for those over 50. And while the goal of the studies has been to find an effective formula, some of the ingredients used have been shown to be unsafe for some people. Problems with kidneys, liver, blood thinning, some cancers, and digestive issues can all be negative side effects. Some of the nutrients published can even make macular degeneration worse if you have a family history of certain types of AMD.

A particularly safe way to supplement the diet to fend off or treat macular degeneration is to take carotenoid supplements. These antioxidants were chosen for the second round of the AREDS study for their unblemished safety profile. Their effectiveness has been proven in multiple studies. A few milligrams (about 20 total per day) of lutein, zeaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin taken by mouth with food daily accumulates in eye through natural processes and work to fight oxidative stress in the tissues where it matters most. These nutrients can be found in most diets but it is very difficult if not impossible to acquire therapeutic amounts by diet alone.

If you have a family history of AMD or are showing the early signs, it would be difficult to find a better and safer way to try to stack the odds in your favor than by taking a daily carotenoid supplement.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

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