Vitamin Therapy For Eye Health & Macular Degeneration

This is an update to help you understand the current understanding of vitamin supplements as they relate to eye health and Macular Degeneration.

The most current groundbreaking news is that Archives of Ophthalmology Feb 2012 published that 1,500 IU of Vitamin A and 0.2g Omega 3s per day over four years gave Diabetic patients and persons with Retinitis Pigmentosa a 50% slower decline in vision saying that Vitamin A helped with Rod replacement and Omega 3s helped deliver Vitamin A to Cones.

Macular Degeneration

In the 1990’s an eye doctor in Chicago reported that his patients with age related macular degeneration (ARMD) who were put on a spinach rich diet seemed to do better than his ARMD patients not on a spinach rich diet.  This empirical observation lead to the development of the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).  The original ARED study included 3,640 patients observed over 6.3 years.  The results revealed that anti-oxidant vitamins were beneficial to reducing the risk of onset of ARMD and the rate of progression of ARMD.  Lutein was later found to increase macular pigment density which further contributed to the benefit of diet supplementation.

Note: Taking vitamins does not prevent or cure ARMD.  Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of onset of ARMD and to reduce the rate of progression of ARMD. Current protocol is to recommend vitamin therapy for all persons over the age of 70 and anyone with risk factors for ARMD including a significant family history and persons with light pigment features.

The original AREDS I formula included:

  • Vitamin A – 25,000 IU
  • Vitamin C – 500 mg
  • Vitamin E – 400 IU
  • Beta Carotene – 15 mg
  • Zinc – 80 mg
  • Copper – 2 mg

AREDS I was later modified when beta carotene was found to promote lung cancer in smokers and persons exposed to second hand smoke.

AREDS II formula was modified to include:

  • Vitamin A – 15 mg
  • Vitamin C – 500 mg
  • Vitamin E – 400 IU (d-alpha Topopherol)
  • Zinc – 80 mg (note – 80 mg is toxic to the retina and kidneys)
  • Copper (*HVP Chelate) – 2 mg – to help absorb zinc
  • Lutein – 10 mg
  • Zeaxanthin – 2 mg
  • EPA – 650 mg
  • DHA – 350 mg
  • NO Beta Carotene

AREDS II recommended dose:

1 tablet per day after age 50

2 tablets per day after age 70

Our clinic recommends Ocumetics Macular Protection Plus vitamins to meet these requirements.

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Taking two Ocumetics Macular Protection Plus a day includes all of the AREDS II formula plus:1) triglyceride omega 3 fatty acids in the form of:

  • Fish oil, Lecithin & Bees Wax yielding
  • DHA – 250 mg
  • EPA – 250 mg
  • 2) Vitamin D3 – 1,000 IU
  • 3) Selenium (*HVP Chelate) – 10 mcg
  • 4) Zeaxanthin – 10 mg

Ocumetics Macular Protection Plus Provides:

  • The optimal balance of:
    • trace minerals and lutein/zeaxanthin with one capsule per day.
    • zinc, copper and selenium
  • High potency omega 3 fatty acids
  • Daily source of vitamins A & D
  • No beta carotene – safe for smokers

Enteric coated softgels with no artificial colorants:

  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Easy to swallow
  • No stomach upset
  • No unpleasant after-taste

Pharmaceutical Grade Vitamins

Ocumetics products are made in Canada.  Only Canada and Europe regulate the production of commercial vitamins to a pharmaceutical grade.  Vitamin products manufactured in the USA and Asia are not regulated and are not necessarily made to pharmaceutical grade.

Points of Interest

Super anti-oxidants that compliment the AREDS II formula include:

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – EPA, DHA, ALA
  • Vitamin B12 & Brewers Yeast (polyphenols- help vitamin C absorption)
  • Grape Seed Extract combines with B12 and omega 3 to increase glucose tolerance factor.
  • Beta glucan 1-4 converts to glucothiane which increases L-ascorbate to relieve dry eye
  • 10 mg of lutein/zeaxanthin per day fully saturates the macula in 90 days
  •  Zinc is required for the production of the super-oxide dismutase which converts free radicals into hydrogen peroxide. Selenium is required for the production of glutathione peroxidase which converts hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. Without selenium, hydrogen peroxide accumulates in metabolically active tissues like the central nervous system and the macula resulting in intracellular damage. Zinc, copper and selenium need to be supplied in balance with one another.
  • Beta Carotene supplementation has little or no redeeming value as it increases the risk of lung cancer and decreases the absorption of Lutien and Zeaxanthin
  • Vitamin A Palmitate is the gentlest form of vitamin A and does not have the dangers of Beta Carotene
  • taking Omega 3s alone depletes you of Vitamins A and D which serve as regulatory steroidal hormones
  • the high potency Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA exert anti-inflammatory effects and facilitate the transport of lutein and zeaxanthin
  • 80mg of zinc is toxic to the kidneys and retina but selenium is added to reduce the toxicity
  • copper helps you absorb zinc

Comparing Ocular Vitamins

A study researched by DVOC looked at 31 different products that claimed to be useful for protecting against macular degeneration.  You can read the differences with the link at the bottom of this page.

Only two products – Ocumetics Macular Protection Plus and one other were close to the AREDS II guidelines.  Of the two products, Ocumetics was the only AREDS II compatible product made in a regulated environment. Ocumetics Macular Protection Plus was also found to be the lowest cost to the consumer.

The most popular commercial Ocular Vitamins – Vitalux, Ocuvite, and ICAPS did not resemble the ASREDS II guidelines. (data available upon request)

Cautionary Note

We do not recommend taking oral meso –zeaxanthin (MZ). Here’s why…

  • Lutien is common in the food chain
  • Lutien is changed into MZ by the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE)
  • MZ is a small spectral absorption of zeaxanthin
  • Meso means micro
  • MZ is only naturally found in the RPE
  • MZ is not naturally found in the blood stream or GI tract
  • Oral ingestion of MZ produces a negative feedback loop that causes you to stop producing MZ on your own
  • It is not know what will happen to other body organs that get exposed to MZ through oral ingestion

We conclude that there is

  • no benefit to ingesting oral MZ
  • the potential for harm
  • to body organs never exposed to MZ in the past
  • by shutting down your natural production of MZ at the RPE

To learn more about vitamin options click here.




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