Last Modified on Jan 15, 2014
Macular degeneration treatments focus on supporting overall health via supplements and dietary additions. Regular doses of specific nutrients fortify the eyes and prevent further deterioration. Nutrients are often best absorbed via food intake; however, supplements often make up for a lack of dietary absorption.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula. Located at the center of the retina, the macula is a light-sensitive layer responsible for controlling central or straight-ahead vision. With age and lifestyle choices, deterioration of this part of the eye occurs.
While the precise cause of deterioration is not known, several risk factors have been identified. Age is one of the largest determining factors concerning macular degeneration; however, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, a high fat diet and lack of exercise may also contribute to the condition. Early symptoms of the condition include blurred vision, the need for additional light when reading, inability to recognize individual’s until very close and the presence of a blurred spot in the center of the vision.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Treating Deterioration of the Macula
At this point, no actual cure for macular degeneration has been identified. Nonetheless, several supplements are particularly effective for treating the condition. Lutein, saffron and fish oil are three dietary supplements that have been shown to stop deterioration and even reverse vision problems. Additionally, avoiding turmeric may be important for individuals with macular degeneration, as the supplement may cause eye sensitivity.
Lutein is considered a carotenoid vitamin and is related to vitamin A as well as beta-carotene. This vitamin possesses a high concentration of carotenoids, which function to filter light and protect the eye tissues. These properties enable it to counteract the deterioration of the eye associated with degeneration of the macula and other parts of the eye.
Saffron is a plant from which the saffron spice is made. Used for treating a variety of health conditions, saffron is also used to improve the function of the retina. Like lutein, saffron is very high in carotenoids, so it functions to protect and fortify the eyes.
Fish oil is most often derived from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon and cod liver. High in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil supports eye health as well as lowering individuals’ risk of heart disease and stroke.
Macular degeneration is a fairly common eye condition, particularly for the aging population. However, with proper diet, nutrition and nutritional supplements, the condition can be slowed and even reversed.
12/01/2012: Carolyn from Renville, Mn: "My Mom suffers from macular degeneration. She can't take nsaids because of that, but she thought it would be OK to take turmeric for her allergies. 4 days after she started she had an eye bleed & is now blind in that eye. I can't remember exactly what she said, but the reason turmeric works for allergies is because it does something to your blood. Be aware."
08/25/2011: Mona from Calgary, Alberta, Canada: "Re Fernando from Hamilton blog 0l/23/2008: I wish to add a few cautions re the list of supplements for macular degeneration and caution people with certain health problems to always do further research and also seek advice of a naturopathic doctor prior to taking supplements - cancer patients should not take Vitamin E; smokers/ex-smokers should not take beta-carotene; nor should anyone on blood thinner medication be taking vitamin E.
08/25/2011: Preston from Yarmouthport, Ma replies: "Please go to www.macdegenresource.com
These people are from Boston and worked with "Retina Associates. " The best place in the world for ANY eye problems... This site is run by brilliant, retired opthamologists with many years experience. The site is information free. Dr. Wallace McMeel saved my sight."
08/26/2011: Daisy from Sf, Ca replies: "Please explain your comments: "cancer patients should not take Vitamin E; smokers/ex-smokers should not take beta-carotene. " Your other statement should be changed to: nor should anyone taking vitamin E need blood thinner medication. Thank you."
08/27/2011: Gavin from Manganui, Northland, New Zealand replies: "This is a medical urban myth! Carotene in smokers and ex smokers causing cancer has been debunked."
07/25/2011: Heather N from Edson, Ab, Canada: "Hi there, I was diagnosed with mild Macular degeneration and prescibed a supplement with vit A, C, E, zinc, copperlutein, Zeaxanthine. I developed a huge allergic rash after several days and think perhaps it's the lutein from marigolds. Am also a type 2 diabetic.
Anyone have suggestions as to another source of lutein 10mg a day from another source. All supplements I have seen are from the marigold source."Replies
07/26/2011: Jean from Denver, Colorado, Usa replies: "Lutein may not be the source of your rash. Vitamins that are prescribed for macular degeneration are usually extremely high in both zinc and vitamin A (or beta carotene). Either one, or even something totally unrelated, could be causing the allery. Eggs are high in lutein. If you are able to eat eggs with no problem, your rash probably doesn't stem from the lutein."
07/27/2011: Heather N from Edson, Ab, Canada replies: "Thanks Jean for your input. I am mildly allergic to eggs and eat them sparingly. Perhaps I should try just lutein and then add other ingredients."
01/24/2013: Ray from Calgary replies: "There are only 1 or 2 studies actually linking lutein use to benefit for Macular degeneration. And then they mostly conclude that more study is needed.
However, one of the best sources of it, after the nasturtium yellow flowers, is Kale (uncooked) and the second best is Kale (cooked). After that try dandelion greens. You can get both at health food stores. Plus if you can't take the nasturtium yellow flowers then try the leaves. Also try turnip Greens, swiss chard, collard greens, romaine lettuce, green peas, watercress, romaine lettuce, and of course popEye's favorite, spinach. He wasn't just strong to the finish but had a good eye for good food."
01/24/2013: Ray from Calgary, Ab replies: "Sorry, but I don't know why anyone would think that eggs are high in lutein. Eggs, I believe, only have some lutein because many, not all, farmers include marigolds in chicken feed to make the egg yolks a strong yellow color. So if you don't eat the yolks but only the whites, or get eggs from a natural farmer who doesn't like to "doctor" the chicken feed to get a "healthy color" of bright yellow then you will probably have little lutein from eating eggs.
And, furthermore, the marigolds are used by farmers for "coloring" and not for its high lutein contents. The egg producers are not doing this for your nutritional benefit. Otherwise they would have chosen other plants with higher lutein content.
I believe the Nasturtium flowers are the highest in lutein of any plant that I know of. While marigolds are in the order Asterales that includes calendula and tarragon we find that Nasturitium is in the order Brassicales that includes cabbage, papaya and all the yummy dark green vegetables that are so good for you in so many ways- including their extremely, extremely, high lutein. (Nonetheless my optometrist sells a lutein supplement made from marigolds, obviously following the chicken feed trail). That is why I think it best to stick with nasturtium, kale, watercress, spinach and so on if you are worried about your eyes.
On another note, the world's healthiest foods site, whfoods.com presents a lot of research to suggest that berries are one of the best things for eye health. While other sites suggest fish oil high in vitamin A derivatives."
05/17/2011: Praveen from Dehradun, Uttrakhand, India: "Myself Praveen from Dehradun, India. My uncle is 81 years old and suffering from atrophic macular degeneration for last two years. He is constantly under allopathic treatment. But his eye sight is deteriorating slowly. I would like natural remedies/tips for him which may check the deterioration. Thanks, Praveen"
03/27/2011: Conrad from Calgary, Ab, Canada: "STARGARDT'S DISEASE: CAN ANY HERBS HELP THIS VISION PROBLEM?
THE MACULAR DEGENERATION CAUSING THE LOST OF VISION IN ONE OR BOTH EYES IS CAUSE BY PROTEINS UNABLE TO REACH THE RETINA, THAT RESULT THE DEGENERATION. ARE THERE ANY HERBS THAT CAN SLOW DOWN OR STOP SUCH DEGENERATION?
PLEASE ADVICE, THANKS A MILLION.
03/28/2011: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France replies: "The eye drops I talk about on a posting at the start of this page, Re-Vital Eyes are eye drops containing NAC N-Acetyl-Carnosine, seem to help with macular degenaration. At least that is what they say on their website....."
[YEA] 04/15/2011: Marykaylady from Tempe, Az, Usa replies: "YES, YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE EYE PRODUCT WITH: ZEAXANTHIN IN IT. I REMEMBER THIS IS FROM A NEW RESEARCH REPORT RECENTLY. I LOOKED ALL OVER FOR THE BEST EYE PRODUCT I COULD FIND AND I FOUND:
from Vita Cost NSI product called: Lutein
Lutein with 20 mg
Zeaxanthin (marigold flower) 840 mcg
The label says 1 cap per day but I am going to take more
But first have to research and find out how much is enough or too much of these. I also take a NSI multi (with Lutin and Zeaxanthin in it too) that is called Synergy twice daily and it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino's. You have to go to Vita Cost website and check the ingredients and you'll see for the money they are tops. This product received an approval from Natural News--- if you if you know who this is.
I don't know what Mercola had to say. Probably nothing because he wants to sell his own products. I would pay anything to not have mac. deg. And so I was surprised when I could find a fabulous product at this price too.
JO in AZ"
[YEA] 03/04/2013: Scienceview1 from Westmount, Quebec: "Yes, if you find high quality saffron from a trusted shop, it will do the job of delivering the best anti-oxidants and cell-protective constituents. The daily dose needed is 20mg everyday. You can use it as a tea or just add to your food. Other forms of saffron in pill or capsules are available in the market, but make sure of the quality of saffron.
Also make sure your diet includes other eye health igredients such as lutein from kale or spinach and vitamin C. Also, smoking increases risk of age-related macular degeneration. Reduce alcohol consmption, do exercise, and limit exposure to intense light or starring too long at computer screens. Also make sure your blood cholestrol is under control. Health dieat, exercising and no smoking are key for maintaining healty eyes."
02/19/2013: Hippiehugger from San Diego, Ca, Usa: "Article: http://www.naturalnews.com/039150_saffron_macular_degeneration_cure.html"Replies
02/26/2013: Scienceview1 from Westmount, Quebec, Canada replies: "Amazing story about saffron and its benefits for eyeight and general health. There is actually a product the combines saffron with benefits of the natural compound also found in red wine, resveratrol and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Remember that by stabilizing the effect of saffron after longer term supplementation means that the potency of saffron stays the same and does not decline over long time consumption. In fact once patients stopped taking the saffron pill, the effects slowly faded away. Saffron is a protecting retina of the eye so you need it every day for eye health."
02/27/2013: Carol from San Francisco, Ca. replies: "Thanks for this information. Can Saffron be purchased in a Health Food Store? And how much should be taken... more or less the suggested amount?"
03/06/2013: Scienceview1 from Westmount, Quebec, Canada replies: "Hi Carol, The daily dose needed is 20mg of high quality saffron- only the red part of stigmas. There has been actually a product in the market (UK and now Canada) that has saffron and nine other ingredients for eye health. Remember that healthy life-style for eye health includes exercise, no smoking, protecting against exposure to intense light (from computer screens, sunlight etc) are the key. Again, taking daily green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale etc) are very important. Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels and nourish your eyes with eye health nutrients."
03/10/2013: Scienceview1 from MontrÃal, Quebec, Canada replies: "Hello, Lutein and zeaxanthin are macular pigments, naturally concentrated in macula of the eye. Our body cannot synthesize these important compounds so we need to take them via foods (green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale) or take supplements that have lutein/zeaxanthin. The product mentioned above also has macular pigments.
Protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing proper sunglasses that have anti-UV coating."
[YEA] 05/26/2013: Marsh from Denver, Co: "SPINACH FOR MACULAR DEGENERATION - We just had a dinner party last night and an elderly gentleman from S. Africa told of us his brother-in-law who had severe macular degeneration. A nurse at the hospital passed along information for him to ask his doctor. After speaking with the doctor he decided to forego his quarterly eye injection. Instead, he began eating 2-3 tablespoons of slightly steamed/cooked spinach 3 times a day. His brother-in-law is now able to see, driving and woodworking. He said had he not seen it for himself, he wouldn't have believed it. I haven't any proof, but a few bites of spinach daily shouldn't hurt anyone. I hope it works!"
08/28/2010: Shary from Centennial, Co : "A combo of CoQ10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and fish oil has been shown in several studies to both halt and partially reverse vision problems caused by macular degeneration. The info is available online."
[YEA] 01/23/2008: Fernando from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: "Macular Degeneration Reversed!!
Hi everyone, My grandmother is 71years old and has had The dry type of Macular Degeneration for over 5 years, every year it got worse. The dotors told her there was nothing that could be done, basically sending her home to go blind. So I decided to do a ton of research on the subject. I read a bunch of books and many studies on the net of how people have stop and in most causes reversed MD and other common eye dieseses. I also purchased Dr. Lorraine Days CD on MD. All my research basically said the same thing. High intake of dark green vegtables(spinach, broccalie,kale,ect) and orange coloured veggies(carrots, can remember the others) are high vitamins that are vital to eye repair and maintenance. Knowing that my grandmother wasnt going to change her diet dramatically, I opted to get her high doses of the same suppliments found in those foods. This is what I got her to take daily.
1.Lutien and ZEAXANTHIN .........Highest doses available
2.selenium.......................Highest doese available
3.Vitamine C.....................Highest does possible(up to 4000mg, youll know ur taking to much if you get diarria)
4. Beta-Carotene.................Highest doses available
5.Zinc...........................Highest doses availble
6.Vitamine E.....................Highest doses available
My grandmother took this everyday for 4-6months, and last week she went back for her normall eye checkup to see her progress, and sure enough, not only did the macular degeneration stop but her eye sight has improved, and they said that her lense wasnt thinning but instead was getting thicker(Im not sure if they said the lense or the retina, or something else, I apoligize) This was only after 4-6 months of use. So needless to say we are all very Happy and excited, and I have proved to myself that the body can heal itself when given the right tools, that less than what I can say for the doctors that told her there was nothing she could do. PLEASE TRY THIS IT REALLY WORKS, Im not a doctor, but Ive done alot of research on the subject. Please just double check with your doctor or nutricenist about these vitamins before taking them in HIGH DOSES. I want to pass this on so others can help themselfs when no one else seems to be able to. Fern
Update to this, it has now been two years, and two more check ups, and every year her eyesight continues to improve. IT IS ACTUALLY REVERSING!!!"Replies
05/20/2008: Lana from Texarkana, AR replies: "MMS, wondering about it..."
08/26/2008: Serge from Chateauguay, Canada replies: "I just found a product that contains all of those supplements in one bottle except for the Zeaxanthin. It's from "NOW Foods" and it's called "Eye Support"."
09/29/2008: Fernando from Hamilton, Canada replies: "Response to Serge:
08/26/2008: Serge from Chateauguay, Canada replies: "I just found a product that contains all of those supplements in one bottle except for the Zeaxanthin. It's from "NOW Foods" and it's called "Eye Support"."
Yes I know, but remember they will not be HIGH doses. It is impossible to have high doses with one pill. Unless the container says to take 5 a day, then maybe, look into it."
03/10/2009: Mary from Saratoga Springs, NY/USA replies: "Macular Degeneration Supplements: In regards to Fernando from Hamilton, Ontario Canada, he was giving his grandmother high dowes of vitamins for her macular degeneration, but what is "high doses" for each one? I want to get my mother started on this but need to know the dosage of each vitamin.
03/10/2009: Andrea from Ontario, Canada replies: "Would this also help someone with Glaucoma?
06/20/2009: Renee from Torrance, CA replies: "My 93 year old mother has been doctoring for years with macular degeneration. She has tried all of the supplements for macular and nothing has helped. She has been to specialists and they say nothing can be done. She is currently taking vitamins from our chiropractor. These are wonderful vitamins that are more like food, but they don't equate to dosages of regular vitamins.
I know we aren't allowed to recommended or prescribe, but will you list the dosages that your grandmother is taking so that we can compare those to what our loved ones are currently taking?
It's not illegal to say something like, "My grandmother is currently taking....." and then list the products and their dosages! (This site doesn't allow brand names and websites to be mentioned, but we don't need them.]
Would be ever so greatful.
09/22/2010: Lorraine from Cairns, Queensland, Australia replies: "I love this site and am so pleased it is here for us. I have Macular Degeneration and am looking for a product that has Lutien and Zeaxanthin but cannot find one anywhere. Ferando from Canada may be able to help. I am desperate as my mother went blind with this same problem."
09/23/2010: Tom from Regina, Sk replies: "Lorraine:
Possibly meso-zeaxanthin is more what you want in an AMD supplement? From marigolds.
Quick search shows many brands now have from 3. 75 mg (seems most common) per pill to 10 mg meso- per pill. Effectiveness or not might depend on progression of the AMD, whether it's wet or dry, etc. Another EXTREMELY important thing you must note is that it took decades to show up, but it's here and causing intense grief and problems. What s it? It's all the fast food deep frying in omega-6 cooking oils (so called "healthy fats" all these decades) and the high temperatures of the oils causes formation of a very destructive compound called HNE.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration was rare as late as 1980. And in recent decades there has been a 1000% increase! Dr. Paul Beaumont, one of the world's foremost food researchers, has found that people who eat higher amounts of vegetable oils (corn, soybean, safflower, etc. ) lose their vision 3. 8 times faster, and have twice the risk of developing macular degeneration. A compound known as HNE forms when vegetable oils are heated. HNE attacks the arteries, nerves, and eye tissue. It has been implicated in hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, liver disease, as well as ARM. Processed vegetable oils are dangerous to your health and should not be used at all. Cook with butter, lard, or coconut oil."
09/23/2010: Val from Former Cairns Resident, Vic. Au replies: "Hi Lorraine from Cairns, Some years ago I was diagnosed with a cataract in one eye and the retina starting to tear in the other. I went to the chemist on the corner of Toogood and Bruce Hwy. It's in that small complex with the Drs surgery. They used to have a range of herbal mixtures that they made up. I had their standard eye one with silica added. Plus I bought a fresh 100% blueberry juice (just from the suppermarket). I was told to eat 1 cup of blueberries a day and as you know the price of blueberries the next best thing was juice. I took 100mls mls a day, 5 days a week. Unfortunately I can't remember how long I took them for but it was some months. Shifted to Vic and new specialist says there is no damage to the retina and the cataract (which was advanced at the time for my age) is now at a state that is not abnormal for my age. The chemist used to have their own herbalist you could talk to and they would then make a mix up for you. Good Luck"
09/24/2010: Lorraine from Cairns, Qld, Australia replies: "Thanks Val, I will check it out."
08/07/2011: Jerry from Durham, Nc replies: "In their book, "People's Pharmacy: Home Remedies" by Joe and Terry Graden, one person wrote in saying that his 78 year old wife was cured of Macular Degeneration from taking bilberry fruit capsules. She was cured within a few years of taking the pills. I did not see bilberry fruit capsules mentioned in this thread, so I thought I'd share that."