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February 1994

Vitamins, Minerals, and Macular Degeneration: Promising but Unproven Hypotheses

Author Affiliations

Boston, Mass

Arch Ophthalmol. 1994;112(2):176-179. doi:10.1001/archopht.1994.01090140052021

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States.1 Approximately 25% of people aged 65 years and older have some manifestation of this disease, including large or confluent drusen, retinal pigmentary changes, geographic atrophy, and exudative disease.2 Since the elderly make up an increasing proportion of the population, it is estimated that 6.3 million persons will have AMD by the year 2030. This disease, therefore, has important implications for the individual patient as well as the general public.

At present, the causes of AMD are unknown and we therefore cannot prevent it. We do not fully understand factors leading to its progression, so early stages cannot be arrested. The only proven method of treatment, laser photocoagulation, is effective for only a small fraction of patients, and vision is often impaired despite treatment.3 For these reasons, antioxidant vitamins and minerals represent particularly

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