'Super vision'

Supplements that protect against age-related macular degeneration also boost the power of healthy eyes

06 Jul 2016 by Olivia Wannan

Every person received a boost to their visual function after taking carotenoid supplements for a year, a new Irish clinical trial has found.

Waterford Institute of Technology researcher, Professor John Nolan, told OT that the contrast sensitivity results from the end of the macular pigment study, published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, were very clear-cut.

The Macular Pigment Research Group scientist emphasised: “100% of patients responded to it – nobody has enough of these nutrients.”

The Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials researchers took 105 people with healthy eyes and randomly divided them into two groups. One took the carotenoid supplement – which accumulates in the macula, reducing oxidative damage and boosting blue light filtration – while the other took a placebo for a year.

The participants’ contrast sensitivity was monitored, and other measurements included best-corrected visual acuity, glare disability and photostress recovery, Professor Nolan said.

“The results were very, very significant. It did, in fact, make their vision better.”

As the researcher told the funding body, the European Research Council: “We can create vision excellence. We can create super vision.”

Professor Nolan said the results would be noteworthy for people who relied on their vision for work, from drivers to athletes and soldiers.

The double-blind clinical trial used the same formulation of carotenoids that were found by Professor Nolan to protect the eye from ongoing age-related macular degeneration damage.

The research group’s ongoing work had contradicted the common belief that taking supplements for health was ineffectual, he said, adding: “People get uncomfortable when you talk about supplements.”

However, Professor Nolan said that his team had, thus far, been unable to replicate the positive results seen with the supplements using foods naturally high in the carotenoids. “The results aren’t anywhere near as impressive,” he explained.

Professor Nolan stated that the MacuShield lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin supplement was used in the study, but the company was not involved in funding the research.

Next the research will look at how the carotenoids improve the health of the brain, he highlighted.

Professor Nolan will be speaking about his macula pigment research at AOP event Therapeutics London 2016 (25–26 September, Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury)

Image credit: Macushield


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