Popular Sleep Supplement May Reduce Risk of Vision Loss

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Cole Eye Institute in the U.S. have unearthed a potential connection between melatonin, often dubbed the “sleep hormone,” and a decreased likelihood of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye ailment that affects central vision.

AMD impacts the macula, a small region near the retina’s center, leading to central vision blurriness. While there’s no definitive cure for AMD, various treatments exist to manage and decelerate its advancement.

In their study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, the team scrutinized health data from over 200,000 individuals, including those at different stages of AMD and others without age-related vision problems. Comparing melatonin supplement users with non-users, they found a correlation between melatonin intake and diminished risk of age-related vision impairment, particularly among individuals without existing deterioration and those in the early stages of the condition.

AMD is a prevalent cause of visual impairment in Europe, with approximately 67 million EU citizens currently affected. This number is projected to surge by 15% by 2050 due to an aging demographic, as AMD predominantly affects individuals over 50.

The disease ensues when the macula’s regulatory mechanisms falter, triggered by abnormal blood vessel growth or progressive loss of retinal cells. Melatonin, known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and mitochondrial-protective attributes (critical for cell function), may counteract AMD-causing processes, as per the researchers’ findings.

While previous in vitro and animal studies hinted at melatonin’s potential, further validation is imperative. Factors like smoking or healthcare accessibility may influence AMD onset, warranting comprehensive investigation.

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