What Supplements and Herbs Would You Recommend for Macular Degeneration?

Reader Contribution by Amy Mayfield

What supplements and herbs would you recommend for macular degeneration?

Maria Spears
Midland, Texas

Macular degeneration, a condition in which the center of the retina deteriorates, is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people 55 and older. Although the condition can’t be reversed, its progression and severity can be slowed by using natural remedies and making healthy lifestyle changes. (If you have macular degeneration, be sure to see an eye doctor regularly to monitor the condition and keep it from worsening.) Here are some herbs, supplements and other suggestions that might help:

* Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is rich in flavonoids called anthocyanosides that help strengthen connective tissue and blood vessels. It is available in a standardized extract of 25 percent anthocyanosides; the standard dose is one 80- to 160-mg capsule three times daily. Other rich sources of anthocyanosides include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, red grapes, plums and prunes — enjoy these liberally in your diet.

* Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), long valued for its use as a memory enhancer, also has powerful antioxidant effects and has been shown to improve vision in people with macular degeneration. The standard dose is one 40-mg capsule of an extract standardized to 24 percent flavone glycosides three times daily.

* A healthy diet helps most health conditions, and macular degeneration is no exception. Aim for a nutrient-rich diet that includes foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that may thwart macular degeneration. Great sources include spinach, kale and mustard greens. Also eat plenty of carrots, squash and other orange and yellow veggies, which are rich in carotenoids.

* Don’t smoke! Smoking causes oxidative damage, which can increase the risk of macular degeneration.

* Protect your eyes from the sun with high-quality sunglasses, and avoid excess sun exposure.

— Amy Mayfield, editor, Herbs for Health magazine