Only 38 per cent of people in the UK have heard of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the industrialised world, reveals new research carried out by US supplement manufacturer Kemin Foods.
Kemin Foods, which makes the FloraGLO brand lutein, launched a campaign in 2001 to raise consumer awareness of AMD, a slow, progressive condition that occurs when the cells in the macula break down, causing loss of sight in the central field of vision. A growing body of research shows that increasing levels of lutein in the diet can help lower the risk of developing AMD. Lutein also helps slow the progress of the disease if it has already taken hold, claims Kemin.
The omnibus research, carried out in April, is part of the campaign, to assess awareness levels of UK consumers on the role of nutrition in eye health. The new survey found that although 80 per cent of people were aware that diet plays a role in maintaining or improving eyesight, only 13 per cent of people had heard of lutein - similar to the figure revealed in the first omnibus survey carried out by Kemin last year.
Kemin Foods launched its FloraGLO brand of Lutein onto the UK market in 2001 and the company has continued to invest heavily in the European dietary supplement market via education programmes and public awareness campaigns, now running in Italy too. Kemin also supports the Lutein Information Bureau, a website which aims to raise consumer awareness about AMD and the value of nutrition for AMD prevention.
Studies have shown that people who have a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin have a 57 per cent less risk of developing AMD. Lutein is a natural antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. In the body, lutein deposits itself predominantly in the central retina and eye lens, where it plays an active role in filtering harmful blue light and quenching free radicals.
Commenting on the survey, a spokesperson from the Royal National Institute for the Blind said: "The number of people with AMD in the UK is set to increase over the next few years, so it is vital that both the general public and medical professionals are aware of this common cause of blindness."
RNIB and the AMD Alliance UK, in conjunction with the Lutein Information Bureau, is planning to work with GPs to increase knowldege of the latest diagnosis of AMD and its treatment options. Kemin is currently working with medical professionals in the Italian market to boost awareness of lutein and looks set to continue its offensive to make Europeans more aware of the benefits for eye health of dietary intervention.