Researcher, William Christen, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, says that an estimated 1.75 million people have advanced age-related macular degeneration, and 7.3 million are in early stages of the disease.
"This is the first randomized trial to indicate a possible benefit of folic acid, B-6 and B-12 vitamin supplements in reducing the risks of age-related macular degeneration," he state.
Christen and his colleagues collected data from a cardiovascular disease trial involving more than 5,200 women over 40 who reported that they did not have macular degeneration at the study's start.
The women had been randomly assigned to take either a daily combination of folic acid, B-6, and B-12 supplements or a placebo. They also answered yearly questionnaires for about seven years to track pill adherence and the development of new diseases.
At study's end, 55 cases of age-related macular degeneration were confirmed in the vitamin group and 82 were confirmed in the placebo group.That means that those who took the supplements had a 41% lower risk of being diagnosed with the disease.
Even though the study involved only women, the researchers say, the findings probably apply to all older Americans.
Christen says that these finding are the first to suggest a possible early prevention measure and that more research is warranted, partly to determine the amounts of vitamins necessary to benefit eye health. The doses taken in the study were higher than the daily recommended doses.