Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Research on Preventing Retinitis Degeneration

New research supports the use of 12 mg of lutein each day to slow visual field loss in adults with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition.

The right supplement at the right time.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a common form of retinal degeneration. This disorder causes a progressive loss of photoreceptor cells in the eye and can eventually lead to blindness. Daily intake of 15,000 IU of vitamin A palmitate is known to reduce the progression of the disease and can sometimes postpone blindness for many years.

In newly published research, scientists sought to determine whether supplementation with lutein – a nutrient found in yellow/orange and dark green leafy vegetables – could slow visual decline in patients with RP who were already receiving vitamin A.

A randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial of 225 nonsmoking patients (ages 18 to 60) took place over 4 years. Each day, patients consumed a tablet of 12 mg of lutein or placebo. All participants were given 15,000 IU/day of vitamin A palmitate.

Over the course of the study, a decrease in visual sensitivity loss was seen in the lutein+vitamin A group. The average decline was smallest in the individuals with the highest serum lutein levels.

In this group of participants, lutein supplementation of 12 mg/day was effective at slowing visual sensitivity loss, and could therefore delay or prevent the occurrence of blindness even better than treatment with vitamin A alone.

Berson EL, et al. Clinical Trial of Lutein in Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa Receiving Vitamin A. 2010. Arch Ophthalmol 128(4):403-11.

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