Seeking info on Macular Degeneration !!

Craig Uthe cuthe at
Mon Jun 26 20:13:45 EST 1995

I can't advise about any surgery, but I can tell you about a Wall Street 
Journal article, Nov 9, 1994, "Study Says Eating Dark, Leafy Greens May 
Reduce Risk of Blindness in Elderly."

The article describes AMD (age-related macular degeneration) as happening 
when the macula (in the center of the eye's retina) loses its yellow 
pigments.  The yellowish pigments that are lost from the macula were 
said to be carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.  Their purpose, it 
is thought, is to protect the retina from the damaging effects of visible 
blue light.

In the study the article describes, elderly people who reported they 
regularly ate spinach and/or collard greens two to four times a week were 
half as likely to develop AMD as those who did only once a month.  Those 
who ate the greens five to six times a week were even less likely to 
develop the disorder.  (356 patients with AMD and 520 with other eye 
disorders were involved in the study.)

The study found that vitamin A and E supplements did not provide any 
benefit, and C provided only hints of possible benefits.  But those who 
ate the largest amounts of foods rich in the carotenoids (the nutrients 
that give vegetables their green, yellow or orange colors) had a 43% 
lower risk than thow who ate the lowest amounts.

Among the caretinoid-rich foods, those high in beta carotene (e.g., 
carrots) did NOT provide any significant benefit.  Instead the benefit 
seemed to come largely from spinich and collard greens, which happen to 
be rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.  The 25% of patients who consumed the 
highest amounts of these two had a 57% lower chance of having AMD that 
the 25% who consumed the least.

The researchers didn't inquire about other dark green leaves, but they 
noted that kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens are also rich in 
lutein and zeaxanthin.

You might find more details in the Journal of the American Medical 
Assocation for that week (around 11/9/94).  The only research named was 
Johanna M. Seddon of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, 
but she had colleagues in NY, Boston, Chicago, & Baltimore.  And 
remember, a single study does not make it a fact, but it's a start.

I now eat dark greens frequently (vs. before I almost never did).  I 
can't take much spinich due to the high iron content, but I eat more than 
before, and I've taken a liking to a salad of fresh kale with fat-free 
honey mustard dressing.  (I'd guess that salads are better than boiled 
vegetables.)  I doubt it can reverse damage, but maybe a diet like this 
might slow further deterioration?

Good luck,karenkw at (KarenKW) wrote:
>My 82 year old father is in the same situation as your friend. 
>Unfortunately laser surgery did not help (it may even have worsened the
>condition).  He  is having a very difficult time adjusting to this loss
>and has some limited help from a low vision specialist who has provided
>him with special lenses that enable him to see a little, although he can
>only use them for distance and only for a short time.  Your friend's
>ophthalmologist should refer him to such a specialist and also make a
>referral to social services to see what support they can provide. 
>Unfortunately I know of nothing to restore his vision.  I wish him the
>best of luck.

cuthe at

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