Letters: Making milestones in treating macular degeneration

Making milestones in treating macular degeneration

“I have fairly advanced macular degeneration and I understand there is nothing the ophthalmologists can do about it. You mentioned lutein but is there anything else that might slow it down or improve the condition?”

-J.R., Boca Raton, FL

A. I have been saving your letter, J.R., to coincide with the Health Note in this issue concerning lutein (see page 1), which is the most widely known nutrient for fighting macular degeneration.

The retina, the inner lining of your eye, contains a substance called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). When it’s exposed to oxygen, this pigment experiences a form of cell death called apoptosis. (You should remember “apoptosis”; it’s a handy diagnosis you can use to freak out your hypochondriac friends.) Studies have shown that apoptosis of these RPE cells occurs during the early stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Glutathione, an antioxidant that is present in your body, acts to protect RPE cells from free radical damage that leads to apoptosis.

Amylase, lipase, lactase-all those thing ending in “ase” (they’re dietary enzymes)-increase glutathione synthesis and thus offer more protection. With this devastating disease, the more glutathione the better.

Along with lutein and glutathione, zeathanine has been used in the treatment of general eye disease because of its antioxidant properties.

I’ll keep watching for more advancements in the treatment of MD and will be sure to let you know if any useful ones come along.


“Oxidative damage and protection of the RPE,” Progress In Retinal and Eye Research 2000; 19(2): 205-221