According to new research published in the British Medical Journal’s Ophthalmology, the progression of a potentially devastating form of partial blindness, wet macular degeneration, can be slowed by taking a supplement loaded with antioxidants, zinc and copper.

The macula is the part of the eye we use for reading, watching TV, writing and doing any fine work. In wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These vessels can leak fluid and blood, which can damage the macula. The result can be devastating.

Injections of drugs into the eye have proven to be monumental in slowing the inflammation inside the eye that is part and parcel with this problem.

Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at the prevalence of wet AMD in men and women age 55 and older and found that taking this daily supplement seemed to slow the progression and possibly even the development of this dreaded form of blindness.

Wet macular degeneration is treated with eye injections containing anti-VEGF agents (“vascular endothelial growth factor”) such as Avastin. Monthly shots have become the mainstay of treatment. But what if a pill might keep it from happening or slow it down? Nice.

In this study patients who had AMD and took the oral supplements gained additional time living without impaired vision. It wasn’t a treatment cure like the injections but it was an additional more natural step that helped.

My spin: We need more research into this devastating disease that hits older folks. The older I get the more I think this research is critical.

Antibiotics not

a cure for cold

Think about taking an antibiotic for your cold – think again.

Here’s one more reason not to get an antibiotic for that cold. Research published in the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology examined multidrug-resistant salmonella, looking at how the bacteria reacted to antibiotics in the test tube.

“Understanding the influence of antibiotics on multidrug-resistant bacteria is critical to the proper selection and prudent use of antibiotics while minimizing potential collateral consequences,” researchers noted. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics is reducing our chances that these wonder drugs will work when we need them. Taking them for a cold is a perfect example of a dumb choice.

Bacteria move around by darting, gliding, sliding, swarming, swimming and twitching. Using novel techniques, the researchers found that some antibiotics supposedly designed to prevent the bacteria from moving actually increased bacterial movement. That’s right. The antibiotics got rid of the weak bacteria allowing the stronger, resistant, bacteria to reproduce.

So what to do? If you’re sick and do not have a fever greater than 101.5 chances are you have a virus. Yes if you’re on chemo or have COPD then I might be wrong but most people who get antibiotics when they shouldn’t are healthy adults who feel miserable when they’re sick, make an appointment with their doctor, insist that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to them and walk away with a prescription rather than advice. Yes, you may feel horrible – and having one of those nasty viral infections certainly is awful – but hold on and do some simple things that will encourage your body to take action on its own.

Focus on hydration. Too many people stop drinking when they’re sick. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body is not in optimal condition for fighting off the bug. You can tell if you’re hydrated enough by looking at your urine. If it’s concentrated and dark, you should drink more fluid.

What should that be? Water is just fine. Some juice is good if you aren’t eating much, as it may give you calories you’re not otherwise getting.

Next, hydrate the air. Humidifiers are great not only for children but for adults. Ultrasonic humidifiers are the best because they are the quietest and produce the smallest droplets that are more likely to get into your lungs where they need to be. This is to help create the secretions you need so you can cough things up and breathe easier.

Third, take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen for fever or chills. And finally, think about eating foods that are easy to digest to allow you to get the calories you need.

Then there’s TLC. For me it’s chicken soup. For you it might be a veggie broth. For me it’s Vicks VapoRub (my mom used to wipe it on my chest) for you it might be a warm toddy. Taking that Rx for TLC might just improve your natural defenses and fight off that virus without ruining your microbiome.

This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions.