Antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables such as carrots can help slow down sight loss in older adults, say scientists.
In a five-year study, scientists in Belfast and Waterford showed that the intake of high levels of both carotenoids – rich antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables – preserved macular pigments, slowing down the progression from early to late age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is an incurable eye disease which causes blurring of central vision because of its effects on the macula, the central part of the retina.
To reach the conclusion, Professor Usha Chakravarthy, from the Queen’s University Centre of Vision and Vascular Science, looked at nutritional supplements for patients with AMD and found they helped sharpen vision.
More than 400 people with an average age of 77 took part in clinical trials investigating whether carotenoids could prevent progression to the more serious late AMD, reports Sky News.
The supplement contained the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, combined with vitamins C, E and zinc.
These findings are important because this is the first randomised controlled clinical trial to document a beneficial effect through improved function and maintained macular pigment.
Further research is needed to confirm these findings and to identify the numbers needed to treat to prevent one case from progressing from early to late AMD.
- Prof Chakravarthy