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Zinc and Macular Degeneration

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Should Zinc Be a Part of Your Senior Eye Care?

Taking zinc to slow the progression of macular degeneration is a hot topic in senior eye care. Should you take it? What are the benefits, and does it work? For an explanation of how zinc affects age-related macular degeneration, Dr. Micheline D. Young, your expert optometrist in Copperas Cove, presents the following Q & A discussion.

What is zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that is important for your brain, immune system and eye health. A serious lack of this mineral can increase your risk of infection at any age. With regard to eyes, zinc is present in high amounts in your macula. It helps vitamin A produce melanin, a pigment that protects your eyes.

What do the studies show about zinc and age-related macular degeneration?

In 2001, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) reported that a specific formulation of vitamins and minerals, which includes zinc, can slow the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In 2006, a second study called AREDS2 – also conducted by NIH’s National Eye Institute – explored ways to improve the AREDS formulation. The results of these scientific research studies led to the reason why many eye doctors advise patients with AMD to take supplements with 25 mg of zinc (as zinc oxide).

However, it’s important to state that while some of the research may be encouraging, other studies did not show that zinc had any significant impact on AMD. The evidence is somewhat contradictory. In fact, Dr. Young has witnessed patients that suffered a worsening of AMD in response to zinc! That’s why it is critical to consult with your Copperas Cove eye doctor before starting with any supplements.

Can zinc prevent the onset of AMD?

Unfortunately, there is no known treatment to prevent the early stages of AMD. Yet, taking zinc supplements may delay the progression of advanced AMD, thereby helping to preserve your vision for longer if you have been diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.

Can I get enough zinc from a daily diet?

Although zinc is present in many common foods, such as oysters, beef, lobster, pork, yogurt and cashews, the quantity isn’t enough to impact your eye health. So although there are many health benefits to be gained from eating a balanced, nutritious diet – zinc isn’t one of those benefits.

What’s the most effective way to take zinc?

Altogether, research demonstrates that zinc works best for senior eye care when taken as a part of a combination of minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. The mix of nutrients appears to be necessary for zinc to have the most powerful impact on advanced AMD.

The AREDS2 formulation for eye health supplements includes:

  • 2 mg zeaxanthin
  • 10 mg lutein
  • 2 mg copper as cupric oxide
  • 25 mg zinc as zinc oxide (reduced from 80 mg in initial study)
  • 400 international units of vitamin E
  • 500 mg of vitamin C

nutrition supplements copperas, txCustomized Nutrition Guidelines for Eye Health, in Copperas Cove

However, there may be even better ways to reap the benefits of nutrition for your eye health. Using a specialized testing tool, Dr. Young formulates the most efficient nutrition guidelines for her Cove Eyecare patients with AMD. The nutrient combinations that she develops for each individual surpass the effectiveness of any AREDS supplement! For more information, schedule a consultation with Dr. Young in her Copperas Cove eye care clinic, serving Killeen and the greater region of central Texas.

Are there any risks to taking zinc supplements?

Yes. Zinc can interfere with your body’s absorption of copper. Because of this, many supplements that have zinc also contain copper. Additionally, zinc can affect the way some antibiotics work, and it can cause nausea, an upset stomach and a higher chance of urinary infections and kidney stones. Before you start taking zinc supplements, it’s important to discuss your personal health condition with your doctor.

If you’ve been diagnosed with AMD, talk to your eye doctor about which nutritional supplements are appropriate for you! Be sure to share details about your overall health and any medications that you are taking, to make sure there are no negative interactions. Patients in Copperas Cove, Killeen and central Texas are invited to visit Dr. Micheline Young for a comprehensive eye exam and senior eye care consultation.