Treatment: For Failing Eyes, a Dose of Green


Supplements containing lutein, a pigment found in dark green vegetables, improved the vision of men with age-related macular degeneration, a study has found. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss in developed countries. Low levels of lutein consumption had previously been shown to be associated with higher risks for developing the disorder.

In the new study, published in the April issue of the journal Optometry, 90 patients with the ailment were randomly assigned to take lutein, lutein with vitamins added, or a placebo.

The lead author, Dr. Stuart Richer of the Veterans Affairs eye clinic in North Chicago, Ill., said the lutein supplements contained the equivalent of three or four ounces of spinach.

Over the course of a year, those taking lutein or lutein and vitamins experienced an improvement in vision, both in pigment density and in function.

Dr. Richer said the patients receiving lutein (pronounced LOOT-ee-in) were able to see the equivalent of one line more on standard eye tests at the end of the year, while those taking placebos continued to decline.

Those taking vitamins along with the lutein did slightly better on overall measures than those taking lutein alone.

Dr. Richer said that lutein supplements or diets rich in vegetables like spinach, kale or collard greens appeared to help patients with age-related macular degeneration and those worried about developing it, although he noted that the study’s results needed to be duplicated in a larger group.

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