Antioxidant intake and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Macular Degeneration Vitamin E Zinc
Professional Data: Macular Degeneration Vitamin E Zinc


Macular degeneration is a major cause of gradual, painless, central vision loss in the elderly. Previously known as "senile macular degeneration," the name has been changed to age-related macular degeneration, due to the unflattering reference to advanced age. The actual incidence of the disease depends upon how it is defined. The Framingham Eye Study revealed that ARMD affects about 2% of Americans aged 52-64 years: 11% aged 65-74 years; and 28% aged 75 years and older.1

As with most diseases, however, it has been determined that there are some apparent risk factors that are associated. Two of these are hypertension and cigarette smoking. Other suggested risk factors include far-sightedness and the normal risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Years ago, scientists thought there was a relationship between light and the development of ARMD. However, more recent studies found no correlation to either visible light nor a light iris color and increased risk. More recently, the role of ocular blood flow in ARMD has been studied to see if there is a relationship between blood flow and the disease itself.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated dietary intake in relation to AMD risk. Participants were taken from the Rotterdam Study and completed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A total of 4,170 participants completed this study. After average follow-up of 8 years, AMD was diagnosed in 560 people. The results found that intake of vitamin E and zinc were both inversely associated with AMD risk. Beta-carotene and vitamin C also showed an inverse association. The authors of this study concluded that, “high dietary intake of beta carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc was associated with a substantially reduced risk of AMD in elderly persons.”2


1. Leibowitz HM. The Framingham Eye Study Monograph: an ophthalmological and epidemiological study of cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and visual acuity in a general population of 2631 adults, 1973-1975. Surv Ophthalmol. 1980;24(Suppl):335-610.
2. van Leeuwen R, et al. Dietary Intake of Antioxidants and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA. 2005;294:3101-3107.