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Decatur Retina Practice Participates in Groundbreaking Clinical Study

Georgia Retina — one of the largest retina-only medical practices in the southeastern United States — recently participated in a novel study led by the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute. This second Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2) built upon the findings of the first AREDS in the examination of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) — the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Georgia Retina enrolled 50 patients in AREDS2.

AMD can lead to significant vision loss, as it breaks down cells in the retinal tissue layer found at the back of the eye, which provides sharp central vision. This particular function is needed for day-to-day activities like reading, driving, and facial recognition.

The first AREDS, which concluded in 2001, established what has been called the AREDS formula — high daily doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. This combination of vitamins and minerals was found to significantly slow the progression of advanced AMD and was widely recommended for individuals at risk of this common degenerative condition. However, after beta-carotene was linked to a heightened risk of lung cancer in smokers, and high zinc doses were found to cause mild side effects in some individuals, the formula was re-visited in 2006 with AREDS2.

Dr. Robert Stoltz, Director of the Clinical Trials Program at Georgia Retina, said that participating in medical studies is an integral element of the practice’s work. “By participating in clinical trials, our practice further shows its commitment to clinical science and our patients’ well-being. We are also deeply appreciative of all our patients who participated in AREDS2 and who contributed in their own way to this great research endeavor.”

This secondary five-year study sought to test whether the original AREDS formula could be improved by adding omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, removing beta-carotene, or reducing levels of zinc. The study involved more than 4,000 people, ages 50 to 85 years, who had a high risk for advanced AMD.

AREDS2 found that the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin was especially positive for individuals who already had low levels of these elements in their diet prior to the study; these individuals were twenty-five percent less likely to develop advanced AMD after the treatment, compared with participants who had a similar dietary intake and who did not take the lutein and zeaxanthin during the study. Furthermore, the study found that removing beta-carotene from the AREDS formula did not reduce the effectiveness of the treatment, and also eliminated the possible complications for smokers.

For more information about AREDS2, visit www.nei.nih.gov/areds2

At Georgia Retina, patients’ vision needs are the top priority. As one of the largest retina-only medical practices in the southeastern United States, Georgia Retina specializes in treating diseases of the retina, macula, and vitreous. Its nine board-certified ophthalmologists have received special Fellowship training in vitreo-retinal diseases and surgery, and are engaged in clinical trials with the goal of advancing research into retinal diseases, their causes, and their cures. For more information, visit www.garetina.com, or “like” Georgia Retina on Facebook. 

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