THE PATIENTS arrive in our offices with plastic bottles and packets filled with pills of all sizes, shapes, and colors. In an attempt to prevent or ameliorate their age-related macular degeneration (AMD) they take vitamins including E, C, and A; minerals like zinc and selenium; carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); and a variety of herbal supplements including gingko biloba and bilberry. They respond to articles in the lay press, in magazines, and on the internet, and to recommendations of their ophthalmologists and primary care physicians in hopes that these substances may help their AMD. Many take these, in addition to a myriad of other supplements for arthritis, vascular disease, and to prevent cancer. Many in the Baby Boom generation"attack" rather than wait for the inevitable progression of aging. They take these supplements prophylactically despite minimal or no signs of AMD. One ophthalmology colleague, a marathon runner, was taking some 80 pills each day in hopes of preventing the ravages of aging, until cardiac arrhythmias developed.
Jampol LM. Antioxidants, Zinc, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Results and Recommendations. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(10):1533–1534. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.10.1533
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