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Open Access Research

A randomised controlled trial investigating the effect of nutritional supplementation on visual function in normal, and age-related macular disease affected eyes: design and methodology [ISRCTN78467674]

Hannah Bartlett* and Frank Eperjesi

Author Affiliations

Neurosciences Research Institute, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK

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Nutrition Journal 2003, 2:12  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-2-12

Published: 10 October 2003

Abstract

Background

Age-related macular disease is the leading cause of blind registration in the developed world. One aetiological hypothesis involves oxidation, and the intrinsic vulnerability of the retina to damage via this process. This has prompted interest in the role of antioxidants, particularly the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, in the prevention and treatment of this eye disease.

Methods

The aim of this randomised controlled trial is to determine the effect of a nutritional supplement containing lutein, vitamins A, C and E, zinc, and copper on measures of visual function in people with and without age-related macular disease. Outcome measures are distance and near visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, colour vision, macular visual field, glare recovery, and fundus photography. Randomisation is achieved via a random number generator, and masking achieved by third party coding of the active and placebo containers. Data collection will take place at nine and 18 months, and statistical analysis will employ Student's t test.

Discussion

A paucity of treatment modalities for age-related macular disease has prompted research into the development of prevention strategies. A positive effect on normals may be indicative of a role of nutritional supplementation in preventing or delaying onset of the condition. An observed benefit in the age-related macular disease group may indicate a potential role of supplementation in prevention of progression, or even a degree reversal of the visual effects caused by this condition.