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Q: macular degeneration ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: macular degeneration
Category: Health > Medicine
Asked by: pleaseteach-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 12 Jul 2005 12:18 PDT
Expires: 11 Aug 2005 12:18 PDT
Question ID: 542695
I would like information about nutrition and how it relates to
prevention of macular degeneration. Explain what antioxidants are and
the role of lutein and zeaxanthin. References would be appreciated.
Subject: Re: macular degeneration
Answered By: journalist-ga on 12 Jul 2005 13:32 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Pleaseteach,

My father has macular degeneration and I've done extensive research
for him on nutrition-related topics.  Below you will find snippets
from links - please visit each link and read the entire articles/info
as these are copyrighted pages and I am not able to legally reproduce
all the text from each page.



"'Antioxidant' is a classification of several organic substances,
including vitamins C and E, vitamin A (which is converted from
beta-carotene), selenium (a mineral), and a group known as the
carotenoids. Carotenoids, of which beta- carotene is the most popular,
are a pigment that adds color to many fruits and vegetables -- without
them, carrots wouldn't be orange, for example."

"Despite over four decades of research, our understanding of oxidative
damage and the role of antioxidants in health is still in its infancy.
Much of the research done to date has produced contradictory results."
[page description in the source code]
"Other studies have shown that diets high in the antioxidants called
carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, did have a protective
benefit in reducing the risk of macular degeneration. These are found
primarily in green leafy vegetables, and the intake of spinach or
collard greens had the greatest benefit. Neither vitamins A, C, nor E
was especially helpful. (58) Scientists believe lutein and zeaxanthin
may help cells avoid oxidative damage from light exposure by absorbing
blue light (59). To prevent the onset of macular degeneration, some
doctors suggest wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from
ultraviolet light damage and eating green leafy vegetables to keep
lutein levels high in the macula."



"Lutein (pronounced LOO-teen) is a carotenoid, meaning a natural
colorant or pigment, found in dark green leafy vegetables such as
spinach, plus various fruits and corn. Egg yolks are also sources of
lutein.  Lutein has been linked to promoting healthy eyes?through
reducing the risk of macular degeneration?and healthy skin.**" [**
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure,
or prevent any disease.]

Where to find lutein in raw foods:

Food /  Mg of lutein / serving 
Kale (cooked)  33.8 / 1 cup
Kale (raw)  22.1 / 1 cup
Turnip Greens (cooked)  18.1 / 1 cup
Collard Greens (cooked)  17.2 / 1 cup
Spinach (cooked)  15 / 1 cup
Spinach (fresh, raw)  6.7 / 1 cup
Broccoli (cooked)  3.4 / 1 cup
Corn (cooked)  2.9 / 1 cup
Green peas (canned)  2.3 / 1 cup
Lettuce (Romaine)  1.5 / 1 cup
Corn (canned)  1.4 / 1 cup
Eggs (2)  .5 / 2 medium
Green beans  .76 / 1 cup
Orange juice (frozen concentrate)  .50 / 12 oz
Oranges   .49 / 2 medium
Papayas   .45 / 2 medium
Tangerines (fresh)   .40 / 2 medium



"From the many carotenoids in the diet, the human retina selectively
accumulates only two: zeaxanthin and lutein. Their concentration is so
high in the macula, (the retinal region responsible for fine visual
activities) that the carotenoids are visible as a dark yellow spot
called the macular pigment. Because these carotenoids absorb blue
light, and because they are powerful antioxidants, scientists have
hypothesized that they protect the retina. Working with quail as an
animal model, the Schepens project provided the first direct
experimental evidence that carotenoids do protect the retina.

"Macular pigment has been implicated as a risk factor in age-related
macular degeneration (AMD), the most prevalent cause of vision loss in
the elderly. Vision loss in AMD is due to the irreversible death of
photoreceptors and/or the invasion of leaky, unwanted blood vessels
into the retina. At advanced stages of this progressive disease,
everyday activities such as reading, driving, or even seeing the face
of a loved one become impossible.

What are specific sources of zeaxanthin?
Most lutein supplements come from a marigold flower extraction.

Are lutein and zeaxanthin always found in coexistence in dietary sources?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are not always found together. In nature,
however, the answer is generally yes.

Sources of zeaxanthin (100mcg/100g serving):
Pepper, orange, raw...1608
Corn, sweet, yellow, canned...528
Persimmons, Japanese, raw...488
Corn, frozen, cooked...375
Spinach, raw...331
Turnip greens, cooked...267
Collard greens, cooked...266
Lettuce. cos or romaine, raw...187
Spinach, cooked...179
Kale, cooked...173
Tangerine, mandarin...142

All of above from


Lutein and zeaxanthin

"In addition to their antioxidant mechanism, lutein and zeaxanthin may
help to protect the retina for any or all of the following reasons:

1. They may protect against photodamage of the retina by filtering out
blue light, which is not stopped by the cornea and lens, and which can
damage the retina over time;
2. They may protect against peroxidation of fatty acids in the
photoreceptor membrane; and
3. They may protect the blood vessels that supply the macular region. 

On April 7, 2004 the North Chicago VA Medical Center issued a press
release announcing that lutein has been shown to not only help
prevent, but to actually reverse symptoms of ARMD. According to the
release, "The LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial) is
the first trial to record actual improvement in several key visual
functions among patients with AMD." The data was published in the
April issue of Optometry - The Journal of the American Optometric
Association. Stuart Richer, O.D., Ph.D., chief of optometry at the
North Chicago VA Medical Center and associate professor at the
Illinois College of Optometry, was the LAST lead investigator. He was
quoted as saying that lutein is "by no means a cure for AMD, [but] the
study does show improvement among several disease symptoms in AMD



"Flavonoids (such as quercetin, rutin, and resveritrol) may also play
a role in preventing macular degeneration. A study of 3,072 adults
with macular changes showed that moderate red wine consumption may
offer some protection against the development or progression of
macular degeneration. Red wine is high in certain flavonoids
(including quercetin, rutin, and resveritrol) that have antioxidant
activity; damage from oxidative stress is thought to contribute to the
development of macular degeneration. Dark berries, such as
blueberries, blackberries, and dark cherries, are high in flavonoids
as well."


Key nutrients 

If, with the advice of your healthcare provider, you decide to take
supplements, the following are some suggested amounts of key

Mixed carotenoids, 25,000 to 50,000 International Units (IU) a day 
The carotenoid lutein, 5 milligrams (mg) a day 
Selenium, 200 to 500 micrograms (mcg) a day 
Zinc, up to 50 mg a day 
Vitamin C, 60 to 2000 mg a day in divided doses; doses over 1000 mg a
day may cause gastrointestinal problems, including nausea and diarrhea
Vitamin E, 50 to 1000 IU a day (usually 400 to 800 IU a day) 


Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), which contains flavonoids, may help halt or
lessen some retinal problems. Clinical studies suggest that it may be
useful in treating vision problems specifically due to macular
degeneration. If you use anticoagulants, do not use ginkgo without
close monitoring by your healthcare provider.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and grape seed (Vitis vinifera) are
also high in flavonoids; therefore, they may help prevent and treat
macular degeneration. Clinical studies suggest that these herbs may
stop vision loss and improve visual sharpness. Here are the
recommended doses:

Ginkgo standardized to 24%, 120 mg once or twice a day 
Bilberry extract standardized to 25%, 120 to 240 mg twice a day 
Grape seed, 50 to 150 mg once or twice a day


A great resource for MD (macular degeneration) is MD Support at  I monitor that site for my father and have
gathered some excellent information from there.

I realize I included some things for which you didn't ask, but I
wanted you to have the information.  Also, if someone you love has
this condition and his/her eyesight is worsening, consider an Aladdin
Rainbow machne (it's really helped my father to be able to read

Should you require clarification of any of the information or links I
have offered, please request it and I will be happy to respond.

Best regards,


macular degeneration antioxidants
what are antioxidants
what is lutein 
what is zeaxanthin
macular degeneration flavinoids
macular degeneration bilberry OR blueberry
aladdin rainbow

Clarification of Answer by journalist-ga on 12 Jul 2005 13:35 PDT
P.S.  My father also uses an onscreen enlarging software called
Zoomtext on his computer.  It is a great software that clearly
enlarges onscreen text and images with no pixelation.  Visit for more information and to sample
the product.

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by pleaseteach-ga on 12 Jul 2005 19:17 PDT
Thanks for the quick and detailed response! One additional point I
wonder if you had come across was: Is there a link between cholesterol
and/or statin drugs and macular degeneration?
Thanks in advance!

Clarification of Answer by journalist-ga on 13 Jul 2005 09:46 PDT
Thank you for the five stars and your kind comments! :)

Regarding cholesterol and statin drugs, below are a few links that may
be of interest to you.

Cholesterol-lowering medications may have positive association with AMD prevention 
by Vanessa Caceres
Studies continue to show mixed results, but physicians think there?s a 
connection to statins.

Could cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins help prevent
age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?  Evidence from a study
published in the March issue of Ophthalmology shows there?s some

?In this particular study, we found that statins seemed to lower the
risk of AMD,? said Gerald McGwin Jr., M.S., Ph.D., Department of
Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Dr. McGwin has led two other studies on the topic, one published in
the British Journal of Ophthalmology in 2003 that showed statin use
was less common among individuals with AMD than those that did not
have AMD. However, a third study slated for publication later this
year found no correlation, said Dr. McGwin.

Rest of article at


Medical News Summary: How much is really known about the safety of statins 
Date: 24 January 2005 
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 
Author: Alex Barnum 

Medical News Summary (summary of medical news story as reported by San
Francisco Chronicle): Statins have become the most heavily used and
marketed drug at the moment. Statins claim to lower high cholesterol
levels and hence reduce the risk of developing potentially fatal heart
attacks. Furthermore, other recent studies have suggested that statins
may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer?s disease, colon cancer,
breast cancer, bone fractures, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Statins have become so popular that drug companies are now trying to
gain approval for over the counter versions which has raised concerns
for some doctors.

Rest of the article at




Most everything I read about this and the info above stresses "may
help," "might help" and so on. My father and I believe that eating
whole, fresh foods are the only way to go - even though my father is
on a very limited income, he strives for no canned, frozen,
pre-packaged or otherwise non-fresh forms of food.  It is more
financially expensive to buy fresh foods, but we believe that it's
more healthy for him to receive as many nutrients as possible in their
fresh states.  He does eat fresh-frozen blueberries though, and when
they aren't available (they are frequently sold out), he will eat the
canned version (he rinses any added sugary solutions before eating the

Best regards,


cholesterol statin macular degeneration 2005
pleaseteach-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent, thorough, quick response, just what I needed!

Subject: Re: macular degeneration
From: andrew_doan_md_phd-ga on 02 Feb 2006 09:44 PST
Also consider this blog written by a Retina Specialist at the U of Iowa:

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