Should my parent, who has macular degeneration, take antioxidants to help stem vision loss?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

Does it make sense for my 80-year-old parent to take antioxidant vitamin supplements to help with his macular degeneration, even if he eats a healthful diet?

Expert Answers

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which damage the macula (the part of the eye that's damaged in macular degeneration). It has been proven that a combination of antioxidants retards the progress of age-related macular degeneration for those who already have it, as your father does.

It hasn't yet been proven that it prevents the disease for those who don't have it, though. So different physicians have different opinions as to the wisdom of taking antioxidant supplements as a preventative measure.

If your parent does take supplements specifically labeled for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), no one else in your family should take the same vitamins, because they contain more zinc than would be recommended for everyone.