Macular Degeneration New Zealand (MDNZ) receives many questions about nutrition and supplements. This includes numerous enquiries about various websites claiming to offer miracle cures for macular degeneration.

It is important to know the facts in order to avoid misleading advertising and false claims.

We trust this article dispels myths and provides you with guidance on nutrition for eye health, including supplementing your diet.

The key eye health practices to follow include:

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Eat a healthy well-balanced diet

Eat leafy green vegetables and fresh fruit daily

Eat fish 2-3 times a week

Choose low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates instead of high GI

Eat a handful of nuts each week

Limit intake of fats and oils

Maintain a healthy lifestyle, control weight and exercise regularly

Consider taking a supplement in consultation with your doctor.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS 1 and 2) are two major clinical trials conducted by the National Eye Institute in the USA. The initial study in 2006 followed 3640 individuals for an average of 6.3 years between 1992 and 2001. In 2006, the AREDS group began a second study called AREDS2 to determine if the AREDS formulation could be improved.

The formulation of supplements (vitamins and minerals) that plays an important role in eye health is outlined in the ideal daily AREDS formula:

Zinc (as zinc oxide) 80 mg

Copper (as copper oxide) 2 mg

Vitamin E 400 IU

Vitamin C 500 mg

Lutein 10 mg

Zeaxanthin 2 mg

Diet and supplements are not to be confused as a cure for macular degeneration.

The AREDS identified the impact of taking the AREDS formula as:

Those with intermediate stage MD reduced their risk by approximately 25%

Those with late stage MD and loss of vision in one eye reduced their risk of developing severe changes in their other eye by approximately 20%.

The MDNZ brochure 'Nutrition and Supplements' provides further information, including the vitamin and mineral value of a range of foods, that will help you decide if a supplement is for you and, if so, how many tablets you require to meet the full formula daily. If you would like to receive a copy of this brochure by post, please call MDNZ on 0800 MACULA (622 852) or email info@mdnz.org.nz. This information is also available on the MDNZ website
www.mdnz.org.nz/resources/brochures-and-flyers/.