Free radical or oxidative damage is strongly linked to aged-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Canada. Therefore, researchers believe that antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, bilberry, lutein and selenium may play a key role in prevention and treatment.
Another potent antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), was the subject of two recent studies on the effect of antioxidants on AMD. A 2001 study from the University of L’Aquila in Italy established that patients with AMD tend to have low levels of CoQ10. In this study, researchers first determined the CoQ10 levels of 19 AMD patients and 19 controls, and then exposed them each to oxidative stress. The results showed that most AMD patients had lower CoQ10 levels than most controls, and that the controls were better able to combat the oxidative stress. These results support the theory that antioxidants may have a protective benefit against AMD.
In a second study, researchers from the University of Rome’s Ophthalmic Neuroscience Program were able to improve the visual function of AMD patients with a combination that included the amino acid acetyl-L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids and CoQ10. The researchers divided 106 patients with AMD into either a treatment or control group. After 12 months, the treatment group showed significant improvements in overall visual function. In addition, only 2% of the treatment group had their AMD symptoms worsen, compared to 17% of the control group. These findings strongly suggest that this nutrient combo may improve and even stabilize the visual function of AMD patients.
Sources: Ophthalmologica. 2001 Jan-Feb;215(1):51-4; Ophthalmologica. 2005 May-Jun;219(3):154-66