Macular degeneration - the major causes of blindness in the West - is not helped by a daily regime of vitamin E, new research claims.
The findings, prepared by the University of Melbourne, go against other studies showing that antioxidants could slow the progress of the disease.
In this study, researchers gave 1193 healthy volunteers either a placebo or 500 IU of vitamin E every day for four years. Macular degeneration, or age-related maculopathy (AMD), occurred in 8.6 per cent of the vitamin E group vs 8.1 per cent of those given a placebo.
However, another study found that physicians who took either vitamin E or multivitamins had 13 or 10 per cent reductions, respectively, in the risk of AMD, while a new study testing a range of antioxidants found a slowing down of the disease, but only in those who had already developed AMD.
Perhaps, said the Melbourne researchers, people need to take vitamin E for longer, or perhaps the benefits are only seen in specific groups, such as smokers (BMJ, 2002; 325: 11-4).