WFU Wake Forest University Eye Center Participates in National Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study

October 19, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Eye Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is one of about 100 clinical sites nationally that will evaluate the effects of antioxidants and fish oil on the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The goal of the study is to determine if these nutrients will decrease a person’s risk of progressing to advanced AMD. Previous observational studies have suggested these nutrients may protect vision.

“We are excited to participate in this study targeting the new combination of nutrients to help reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration even further,” said Craig M. Greven, M.D., professor and chairman of ophthalmology and principal investigator at Wake Forest Baptist. “This study may help people at high risk for advanced AMD maintain their vision longer and enhance their quality of life.”

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the second part of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) project. Five years ago, the first part of the project found that high-dose antioxidant vitamins and minerals (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper), taken by mouth, reduced the risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25 percent, and the risk of moderate vision loss by 19 percent.

The new study will add lutein and zeaxanthin to the study formulation. They are yellow pigments found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and turnip greens, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are derived from fish and vegetable oils. Lutein and zeaxanthin both accumulate in the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision, and researchers speculate that they may promote eye health through their ability to filter out ultraviolet light.

“It is essential that we determine which medications provide the best treatment for AMD,” said Greven. “The AREDS2 study will help us make more informed choices about treatment and, as a result, may maintain useful vision for a longer time.”

Nearly 2 million Americans have vision loss from advanced AMD, and another 7 million with AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. As AMD progresses, it blurs the patient’s central vision. AMD can take two forms: wet and dry. Wet AMD, caused by the abnormal growth of blood vessels under the macula, is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry form. Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Untreated dry AMD can progress to wet AMD.

The AREDS2 study is seeking people between 50 and 85 years of age with AMD in both eyes or advanced AMD in one eye. Participants will receive study medications and a comprehensive clinical examination annually for at least five years.

To find out if you qualify for AREDS2, call the study coordinator at (336) 716-6068.

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Media Contacts: Barbara Evans,, 336-716-6877; Shannon Koontz,, or Karen Richardson,, at 336-716-4587.

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About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. It is licensed to operate 1,282 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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