New research suggests that beta carotene pills are powerless against a common variety of vision loss among older people. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press reports:I guess a lot of people have been popping beta-carotene supplements in the hopes of staving off vision loss, but, apparently that doesn’t work.
An earlier large study had shown that beta carotene — when taken with certain vitamins and zinc — could slow or prevent vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration. Commercial formulations of the eye-protecting combination vitamins are sold over the counter.
But the new study found no benefit for beta carotene supplements alone against the disease.
That may be a comfort for smokers with signs of macular degeneration. Smoking is a risk factor for the condition, but beta carotene has been shown in other research to raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers. So eye doctors have advised smokers concerned about macular degeneration to find a vitamin regimen without beta carotene.