A 70-year-old woman, who was told eight years ago that her deteriorating eyesight would force her to give up driving, now describes her vision as near perfect.
It is all thanks to nutritional supplements that recent clinical trials carried out by a research team in Waterford have shown actually improve vision.
The groundbreaking trials are being carried out at Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG).
In 2006, Norah Norton’s doctor told her that within two years she would have to sell her house in the Cork countryside and move to the city.
The diagnosis was devastating.
“It was beginning to have an effect on all aspects of my life,” she said.
“Driving was becoming a challenge, particularly at night. One part of my job as an art curator requires me to proof catalogues and the text was so distorted it was proving more and more difficult to read. Even simple pleasures like gardening or watching television weren’t enjoyable anymore”.
Ms Norton suffers from an eye condition know as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which results in a loss of central vision.
Someone with AMD can see everything except what he or she is looking at, and is therefore unable to read, watch TV, drive, or recognise a loved one’s face.
Within six months of using the supplement prescribed by the MPRG, she noticed a significant improvement in her eyesight and in less than one year, she described her sight as near perfect.
According to Prof Nolan “the good news is that we know now that the risk of the condition can be reduced through relatively simple nutritional measures. Importantly, we now know what nutrition works best for the eye.
“Studies have shown that certain nutritional supplements can reduce the rate at which the disease progresses. Also, recent clinical trials from our centre have demonstrated how these supplements actually improve vision in these patients.”
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Ireland, affecting over 86,000 people and costing the state up to €133 million per annum. The number of AMD sufferers will continue to increase because of the growing and ageing population.
MPRG is conducting a number of clinical trials into the role of nutrition on vision and the prevention of blindness in their research centre in Waterford. Anyone interested in participating in their trials should contact the research group on 051 845505 or by emailing the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.