A study indicates that melatonin supplements may slow and even reverse the effects of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). ARMD is the leading cause of serious vision loss in elderly persons.
The symptoms of ARMD include seeing wavy lines that should be straight, blurred text, and/or dark or empty spaces in the center of the field of vision. The cells that sense light in the eye’s macula stop functioning correctly and after some time, they do not work at all. A simple visual test called the Asmler grid is an effective screening for age-related macular degeneration.
There is no clear reason why ARMD develops. Laser photocoagulation can help some patients; nutritional supplementation such as lutein and zeaxanthin may be helpful for some age-related macular degeneration patients.
There are two types of ARMD: wet and dry. The dry form affects the majority of ARMD patients.
The research study included subjects with both wet and dry ARMD, and the results were the same: taking a supplement that included 3 mg of melatonin per day in the evening resulted in stability of age-related macular degeneration after 2 or 3 months in most patients. This means the ARMD did not progress, although typical patients would have continued to decline.
Nearly all the subjects who stayed in the study for a 6-12 months had significant reductions of ARMD and increases in visual acuity. Photos of the inside of the eyes of certain subjects showed significant improvement of sub-retinal macular hemorrhages.
This was a small study of approximately 100 subjects, but these findings indicate the need for further research. The supplement used in the research was a combination of melatonin, zinc and selenium.
Melatonin is well-known a sleep hormone. Low melatonin levels have been co-related with ARMD.
Source: Changxian Yi, Xiaoyan Pan, Hong Yan, Mengxiang Guo, Pierpaoli, W. Effects of Melatonin in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Ann N.Y. Acad Sci, 2005;1057:384-392.