Vitamin D helps (more than) 3 (nearly) blind mice see

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Somewhere in the U.K., lots of older mice can see better, thanks, apparently, to a 6-week dose of vitamin D.

Researchers at the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London found those geriatric mice enjoyed better vision and a reduction of inflammation in their retinas. Vitamin D also helped reduce the number of macrophages in the aging rodents' eyes and possibly reconfigured the remaining macrophages in a way that appeared to reduce the inflammation and clear up eye debris.

What's more, the vitamin D appeared to aid in the reduction of amyloid beta deposits in their eyes that can accumulate over time and contribute to macular degeneration. The mouse subjects also experienced fewer amyloid deposits in their blood vessels, the researchers noted. (Both macrophages and amyloid beta deposits increase as a person ages.)

So what does this tell us? Is it time to sit naked in the sun to preserve your sight and absorb as much vitamin D as possible? Are vitamin D supplements the key to preserving vision as we age? There isn't necessarily a clear answer, yet. Researchers' views have often been mixed about the use of vitamin supplements, questioning their effectiveness and also warning that too many vitamins can actually cause harm.

The scientific team doesn't go so far to recommend a vitamin D strategy. Rather, they suggest that understanding what affects an organ like the eye as it ages can help scientists come up with preventative strategies to preserve its viability. They recommend human clinical trials before suggesting older folks take vitamin D supplements. But they also note that more and more people in the West are increasingly vitamin D-deficient--a problem that could lead to major health issues down the line.

Read more details in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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