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Fruit supplements “slow blindness”


Scientists have developed a new supplement which could slow down sight loss in elderly people.

Researchers from the Queen’s University Centre of Vision and Vascular Science found that antioxidants in fruit and vegetables could be the answer to slowing down the onset of blindness in the western world.

As part of a five-year study the team, which was co-ordinated by Professor Usha Chakravarthy, looked at nutritional supplements for patients with early age-related macular (AMD) degeneration.

Although AMD is an incurable eye disease which causes blurring of central vision, scientists found that nutritional supplements helped sharpen vision.

Trials including more than 400 people across Ireland, with an average age of 77, looked at whether carotenoids, the rich antioxidants which are found in fruit and vegetables, could prevent progression to the more serious late AMD.

Supplements given to the participants contained the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, combined with vitamins C, E and zinc.

The results show an intake of high levels of both carotenoids preserved the macular pigments, slowing down the progression from early AMD to late AMD.

Where placebos were used the macular pigments declined steadily.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Queen’s University Centre of Vision and Vascular Science

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