The Social Impact of Vitamins
Bressler and associates recently estimated the potential public health impact of the findings of AREDS on reducing the number persons developing advanced age related macular degeneration over 5 years. They determined that more than 300,000 people with intermediate age related macular degeneration would avoid advanced age related macular degeneration and any associated visual loss over 5 years if they were compliant with the recommendations. However, Jampol found that only 42% of his patients were on the correct dosage of supplementation in his office and a trial following AREDS found that only 45% of participants eligible for supplementation were taking the AREDS type formulation (Frederick Ferris, MD unpublished data 2003).
Though compliance may not be as high as reported in the AREDS study (75%), many patients have become informed about the availability of antioxidant products and the claims made for their benefit. Consequently, their use is becoming more widespread. A survey was conducted to compare the ingredients of various products with the current AREDS recommendations. The survey identified 22 eye nutrient products. Although 75% of the products contained all the constituents present in the AREDS formulation, only 2 contained the dosages recommend by the AREDS study. Then, in order to reap the entire benefits put forth by Bressler and associates, ophthalmologists need not only stress compliance, but must also familiarize themselves with the various products and educate their patients on which brands of supplement they should take.