Nutritional Support for Patients With Macular Degeneration
In October 2001, the National Eye
Institute, a division of the National Institutes of
Health, published “Age Related Eye Disease Study”
which stated unequivocally that minimal nutritional
supplementation is an effective therapy against
macular degeneration. This was a large geographic
study throughout the United States performed to see
if nutritional therapy could beneficially affect the
progressive march of macular degeneration.
It was based on a seven year double blind study conducted by the NIH at five medical centers across the United States. At least 4700 participants were given minimal doses of anti-oxidant vitamins along with zinc and copper. Their results showed only a 25% reduction in the progressiveness of macular degeneration.4 These mediocre results show that nutritional therapy has to be customized for each patient, based on laboratory blood work assessment to obtain better results. Therapeutic levels of supplements need to be given according to the needs of each patient.
Although hereditary in origin, age itself can make macular degeneration worse. With age comes a decreases in blood circulation to the eye. Systemic vascular disease can also cause a decrease in circulation. Systemic vascular diseases that can affect the eye causing a decrease of circulation in the eye include diabetes, hypertension, increased clotting disorders, and hyperlipidemia.
When a person suffers from diabetes there is a lack of capillary perfusion (less blood flow) with less oxygen being delivered to the tissues. Whereas, in atherosclerosis (plaque formation) the blood supply can be significantly decreased. According to many researchers, the etiology of macular degeneration is an inherited autosomal dominant disease that is affected by nutritional deficiencies, systemic inflammation and environmental factors; namely age and smoking.
Customized laboratory testing can pinpoint lab values for nutritional deficiencies, immune deficiencies, systemic inflammation and signs of chronic infection. These laboratory markers if they are abnormal can affect body metabolism and blood circulation. All of these abnormal markers may be improved with customized nutritional supplements along with nutritional counseling.
Another deficiency thought to be linked to ARMD is the link of sex hormones. Other causes of a systemic decrease in circulation that can effect the eye include hypothyroidism, hypoxia, chronic anemia, and high levels of toxic minerals.
This picture describes the usefulness of a red blood
cell mineral analysis: The top two-thirds of this
picture reflect normal minerals and trace elements
in the body. Cardiovascular health is reflected by
the levels of magnesium, potassium and calcium.
Anti-inflammatory health is reflected by selenium,
copper and zinc. Immunological health is reflected
by zinc, copper and magnesium. A stable blood sugar
is reflected by normal levels of chromium, manganese and vanadium.
All of these mineral levels should center around the
50th percentile vertical white line.
The bottom one-third of the page demonstrates toxic minerals. Any level of toxic minerals is considered abnormal. TOXIC MINERALS WILL CAUSE A DECREASE IN BLOOD CIRCULATION AND THEREBY CAUSE A DECREASE IN OXYGEN LEVELS. Minerals such as lead need to be removed by chelation therapy.
The Red Blood Cell Mineral Element Test is a blood test where the red blood cells are spun down and separated from the serum. From the results shown by the example above a prescription can be written for the minerals and trace element deficits such as with boron and chromium. This prescription is then sent to a compound pharmacy for them to fill. The patient then receives a 3 month supply of minerals and trace elements which is customized to their individual needs. This prescription may give a boost to the patient’s metabolism and can improve their blood circulation.
The link between cardiovascular health and good vision has been well established. As mentioned before, eye circulation can be affected by hypertension, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. These medical conditions can cause a deterioration of vision.5 Since the smallest blood vessels known as capillaries can be observed in the eye, it is possible that cardiovascular disease can be predicted. If chronic macular degeneration is severely worse in one eye there could be a link to impaired circulation on that side such as carotid artery occlusion.6
Sangiovani J.P., Chew Ey, Clemens TE, et al.
The relationship of dietary carotenoids and vitamin
A, E and C intake with age-related macular
degeneration in a case controlled study. AREDS
Report – No. 22. Archives Opthalmol. 2007
Sept; 125(9): 1225-32
5 Pathi, S and McNaught A – Ophthalmology: Ocular Manifestation of Systemic Diseases. Student BMJ, April 1, 2003; Vol. 11: 87-130.
6 Tan JS, Wang JJ, Lien G, Rochtchine E, Mitchell P. – Age Related Macular Degeneration and Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease or Stroke – Br. J. Ophthalmology 2008 April; 92/4) 509-12.