Research: FEHER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 117

Abstract

FEHER and colleagues, Ophthalmic Neuroscience Program, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Rome, Italy, j.feher@libero.it, have found vision improvements by treating patients with macular degeneration with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10.

Background

The aim of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was to determine the efficacy of a nutritional supplement on the visual functions and fundus alterations in early age-related macular degeneration.

Methodology

106 patients diagnosed with early macular degeneration were randomized to either treatment or placebo group. The active treatment was a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10 (Phototrop). The main outcome measure was the change in the visual field mean defect (VFMD) from baseline to 12 months of treatment. Visual acuity, foveal sensitivity, and fundus alterations were also measured.

Results

Patients in the treatment group showed significant improvements at the end of one year in all parameters measured. Only 1 out of 48 patients in the treatment group showed worsening of visual function, as compared to 9 out of 53 in the placebo group.

Conclusion

These findings strongly suggested that an appropriate combination of compounds which affect mitochondrial lipid metabolism may improve and subsequently stabilize visual functions.

References

Feher J, Kovacs B, Kovacs I, Schveoller M, Papale A, Balacco Gabrieli C. Improvement of visual functions and fundus alterations in early age-related macular degeneration treated with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10. Ophthalmologica 219 (3): 154-166, May-Jun 2005.

Comment

Macular degeneration affects a sizeable percentage of adults – about 500,000 adults in the UK. This condition seriously affects individuals' ability to read and drive, amongst other activities. Improvements using antioxidants and essential fatty acids are to be welcomed; further research is desperately needed.

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