AREDS/ MAcular Degeneration question
Posted: 10 May 2009 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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My sister has been diagnosed with early stage Macular Degeneration.

Apparently, her opthamologist suggested that she take an AREDS supplement.  I assume this is a supplement that closely matches a stuidy done by the AREDS group.

Since my sister is very much an advocate of alternative medicine (and conspiracy theories), I’m suspicious if her doctor actually recommended this.

Where can I get more information on this supplement’s supposed efficacy?  I found very little on quackwatch.org

Thanks for any info.

[ Edited: 10 May 2009 09:37 PM by Herf ]
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Posted: 11 May 2009 12:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My mother-in-law suffered from this.  However, since she died eight years ago, I wasn’t interested when I saw a very recent article mentioning some very good advances.  I suggest you google the ailment and look for recent research rather than focusing on what is possibly just some weird alternative treatment.

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Posted: 11 May 2009 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I can’t find anything recent on AREDS on any site I trust. That actually raised a red flag for me (an RN).

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Posted: 11 May 2009 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Here are a couple of links for further reading about the clinical trials for this:

http://www.nei.nih.gov/amd/
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00000145

And an eye doctor’s site I found that had these possibly helpful notes:

“Dry AMD usually leads to less visual difficulties than wet AMD. Vision loss is due to a loss of sensitivity of the cells in the macula which may result in a slight decrease in vision and the need to have brighter light to read. Patients with dry AMD, which is at high risk of becoming wet, are often treated with a specific set of high dose vitamins. These vitamins known as the Age Related Eye Disease Study or AREDS vitamins, do not improve vision in patients with dry AMD, but have been shown to decrease the risk of developing wet AMD in patients that are at high risk by up to 19%. Since high dose vitamins can cause systemic side effects or interfere with other conditions, your retinal specialist may recommend you discuss vitamin therapy with your primary care doctor prior to beginning the AREDS vitamins.

They also noted, “Patients that are smokers or recent ex-smokers should not take Betacarotene (one of the vitamins in the AREDS study) because of two studies which have shown a possible increased risk of lung cancer with higher doses of Betacarotene.”

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Posted: 11 May 2009 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dry macular degeneration results in a “... slight decrease in vision”??? How about legal blindness, with no central vision, inability to read even with an expensive magnified projector system, slight peripheral vision only. That’s more like it when it completes it’s course.

My mom has dry MD, and used AREDS, then a stronger, broader, more absorbable vitamin mixture. Her degeneration was slow for a few years, then plunged to blindness. Can’t say that the vitamins had any benefit. As to wet MD, from what I’ve seen from residents in a retirement community, the expensive, non-insured shots into the eyeball(s) result in no improvement, and no discernible delay in blindness.

Of course, the experiences of blind and going-blind old people I know aren’t scientific proof, if there is any.

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Posted: 11 May 2009 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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They did use the word “usually” before “slight decrease in vision.” Perhaps in the majority of cases, it is not so severe? I am not a medical professional. I do not know the difference between the wet and dry forms of this condition or how many years it takes the condition to progress. I was just trying to look up helpful information, and found a link from a medical practice that appeared on topic and reputable at first glance.

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Posted: 11 May 2009 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here is the Cochrane review of the subject. Basically, the AREDS is the only decent sized study, and it did show some potential small benefits. There are also risks, and what the balance between the two is hasn’t yet been established. So some suggestive evidence, but it’s definately a judgment call as to whether the potential benefits justify the risks. As long as your sister understands this, and doesn’t think that becuase she’s taking vitamins they are somehow guaranteed to be safe, it’s not entirely implausible or unreasonable to think there might be some benefit.

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Posted: 11 May 2009 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thank you all very much for the great info.

It definitely helps.

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