Can Vitamin E Cure Macular Degeneration?

Ask the experts

I've heard that vitamin E may help with age- related macular degeneration. Is that true?

Doctor's response

Macular degeneration is a condition that progressively damages the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision, and so it impairs the ability to read, drive, and perform other activities that involve fine, sharp, straight-ahead vision. Although there are a number of forms of macular degeneration, the condition occurs most commonly in people who are over 60 years of age and is termed age- related macular degeneration. Enough for background.

In the medical journal the Archives of Ophthalmology in 1999 (volume 117, pages 1384-1390) it was reported that vitamin E supplementation may, indeed, help prevent age-related macular degeneration. Dr. Cecile Delcourt and colleagues looked at the relationship between age-related macular degeneration and several variables, namely, the alpha-tocopherol, retinol, ascorbic acid and red blood cell glutathione values. Data were analyzed from 2,584 adults who were 60 or above. 38 of the 2,584 (1.8%) had late age- related macular degeneration.

(In technical terms, the researchers found that late age-related macular degeneration was strongly related to plasma alpha-tocopherol- to-lipid ratios. There was an 82% decrease in disease prevalence for participants in the highest quintile of alpha-tocopherol-to-lipid ratios. Additionally, participants with high alpha-tocopherol-to- lipid ratios were less likely to have early signs of age-related macular degeneration than were participants with lower levels.)

The bottom line is that that vitamin E may provide protection against age-related macular degeneration.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018