Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of blindness in western countries, for which no cure is known. Some of the risk factors include age, family history and smoking, with the risk increasing exponential with aging. Smoking is the only risk factor that can be altered.
The studies done in regards to other risk factors, apart from smoking, give conflicting results. The amount of smoking history correlates directly with the risk of AMD. The other modifiable risk factors include hypertension, body mass index, atherosclerosis, cholesterol level, dietary fats and antioxidants.
Margarine has been shown, with other vegetable oils, to be a risk factor. This could be due to the trans fats found in margarine and other vegetable oils. There has been research evidence for an increase of AMD with animal fats, on the other hand.
Two antioxidant carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in dark green and yellow vegetables, and are found in high concentrations in the macula of the eye. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for sharp focus. Of nine studies about the benefit of carotenes and antioxidants in AMD, only three showed a protective effect. Antioxidants and zinc reduced the risk of AMD, only in patients who were at the highest risk of getting the disease. The greatest risk reduction occurred in people taking combinations of antioxidants and zinc. (Smokers should not take beta-carotene.)
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one approach to therapy since advanced AMD is characterized by the growth of many new blood vessels (neovascular disease) with leakage under the retina.
CONCLUSION: There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD.) People with AMD should not smoke. Antioxidants and zinc are of benefit in the highest risk RMD patients. A low-fat, lutein rich, zeaxanthin rich, and antioxidant rich diet is suggested to be healthy by the authors.
Note: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can be altered by supplementation. See Summary #081 and Summary #137. There is previous research evidence that smokers should not take beta-carotene because of possible increased risk of lung cancer.