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October 1990

Do We Have a Nutritional Treatment for Age-Related Cataract or Macular Degeneration?

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md

Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108(10):1403-1405. doi:10.1001/archopht.1990.01070120051026

Age-related cataract and age-related macular degeneration are the major causes of visual impairment and blindness in the aging US population.1,2 Because the elderly are the fastest-growing segment of the population, the prevalence of both disorders will rise dramatically in the next two decades. No medical treatment has been documented to prevent the development or slow the progression of either disease. Once cataracts have developed, surgical treatment is very effective, but cataract surgery, like all surgery, carries some risks and is imposing a growing economic burden on medical resources. Although some persons with the neovascular form of macular degeneration can benefit from laser photocoagulation,3 no treatment is available for atrophic macular degeneration, by far the more common form of the disease.

Animal research and preliminary epidemiologic studies have suggested a protective role for certain micronutrients in the development of cataract and macular degeneration, in particular, vitamins and certain trace

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