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Volunteers needed for eye research

[Posted: Mon 23/06/2008 by Olivia Fens www.irishhealth.com]

Volunteers are needed to take part in a study to determine whether vitamin supplements can improve vision.

The Waterford Institute of Technology needs 120 volunteers aged 18-40 years for the study, which begins in August.

The research will look at macular pigment and macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is a medical condition in which the centre of the inner lining of the eye, known as the macula area of the retina, suffers thinning, becomes weaker, and in some cases, bleeds. It can result in loss of vision.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in Ireland in people over 50 years of age, affecting approximately 80,000 people.

John Nolan, deputy director of the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) said high macular pigment levels benefit quality of vision.

He hopes the research will discover how patients at risk of AMD can increase their macular pigment levels.

“Macular pigment is important for several reasons,” Dr Noland said.

“It is the part of the eye that is most important for vision, it is obtained from diet and can therefore be easily modified, and finally it prevents some of the processes that cause age-related blindness including AMD.”

Participants will be asked to attend the MPRG vision research laboratory on four separate occasions and take supplements on a daily basis for 12 months.

There are no adverse side-effects anticipated from this dietary supplement, which is already available as an eye care product, the researchers say.

The MPRG researchers are also looking for people who are overweight and interested in getting free information on losing weight, to volunteer for a separate study on diet and eyesight.

Already 95 people have taken part in the weight loss study which began in January 2007.

An additional 20 participants are required for the research, which aims to find if there is a link between being overweight and AMD.

Volunteers for this study must have a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or more.

Chosen participants will have a one-on-one meeting with a qualified dietitian, will be given advice on exercise, have specially run exercise classes to attend and a weekly weigh-in.

The research runs for 12 months and volunteers must be available for a three-hour test five times a year. Apart from a blood test, all tests are non-invasive.

Volunteers outside of the Waterford area that are interested in participating in the study can do so at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Kevin Street, Dublin.

For more information on either study in Waterford or Dublin, contact Eithne Connolly at the MPRG, Tel: 051 845 505 or Email:

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