Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – an answer?

Dr Paul Clayton 2005

In two cases, NutriShield customers had been referred to hospital about a year ago with Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It’s a condition where the central part of the retina – the intense yellow spot called the macula – begins to degenerate. The macula contains the highest concentration of photoreceptors and is responsible for visual acuity. Degradation of the macula is the main cause of blindness in the over-65s.

It has been known for some time that low levels of lutein in this part of the eye, correlating of course with low dietary intakes of lutein, predict a higher risk of AMD. That is why we include ‘defensive’ levels in NutriShield of 6mg a day. This was based on a key study by Seddon et al 1994, which showed that lutein intake above 6mg a day reduced the risk of AMD by 57%.

To put that into context, the average lutein intake in Europe is 2.2 mg a day and anyone following the minimum recommendation of 5 fruits and vegetables a day would expect to average 3.8mg. Only 10% of people have a lutein intake at the protective level of 6mg.

For the above reasons, the levels of lutein in NutriShield should be protective. However, the two callers were able to tell a more exciting story. They had both been told by (different) specialist ophthalmic units that they must accept that their condition would gradually get worse. In each case they returned to the specialist units after a year for follow-up checks, and the specialist was astonished that, rather than a deterioration, there had been a measurable improvement.

Of course two cases does not constitute proof that the same success will be true of other people. However, it does, to me, point to a conviction that, over time, optimum intake levels of the key protective nutrients can do more than defend your ‘health status quo’ – they may reverse a negative trend.