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Study Suggests Tweaking Supplements Taken To Fight Blindness

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(Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

wing_dan DL Dan Wing
 Dan Wing is a news anchor and reporter for KYW Newsradio...
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By Dan Wing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The results of a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which was partially conducted at the Wills Eye Institute here in Philadelphia, shows that people taking supplements to fight Age-Related Macular Degeneration may want to make a few changes to the mix. The new formula eliminates a problem associated with the old supplement mix increased rates of Lung Cancer for smokers.

Dr. Julia Haller is Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at the Wills Eye Institute, where they participated in this new improved study, which reduced the risk of worsening AMD by 25%.

“It’s very high-dose Vitamin A, which is beta-carotine, C, E and Zinc,” she said.

But Dr. Haller says the beta-carotine presented the extra risk of cancer for smokers. As a result of a second round of Age-Related Eye Disease Study, Haller says they found that switching beta-carotine with carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin eliminated that risk:

“You can take out the potentially dangerous part of the mix, and substitute in something that is not only safer, but also more effective.”

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are found in the human retina and lens, where they may act as natural antioxidants and help absorb damaging, high-energy blue and ultraviolet light. The organic pigments are made by plants and are especially enriched in green leafy vegetables. They can be stored in animal tissues and are found at relatively low levels in animal food products. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are yellow pigments responsible for the yellow color of corn, marigolds, egg yolks and animal fat.

Dr. Haller says the results suggest that all patients can now take the same formula without worrying about smoking history, but people should consult with a doctor before taking them. She adds that the new AREDS supplements should be made available over-the-counter in the near future.

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