Most people consider their eyesight priceless. But the sad fact is that loss of vision due to degenerative diseases of the eye, especially macular degeneration, occur to thousands of people daily. In fact, macular degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the Western world.
And it wasn't long ago that nothing seemed to work. Not vitamins. Not laser. Not medications.
But on an October afternoon in 2001, all ophthalmologists in the United States received an "Urgent Message" over their fax machines from the National Eye Institute. The news was a revelation:
"Study shows benefit of high dose nutritional supplements in slowing macular degeneration."
Now, if you were a layperson, you might not have the same reaction as ophthalmologists did. We, on the other hand were surprised and delighted. You see, there had been many studies before, and certainly many supplements already existed on drugstore shelves. But the sad fact is that none of them worked. So we couldn't help but feel jaded and pessimistic about the future of "eye vitamins."
But we never received a fax like this before. And it was from the National Eye Institute, part of the United States Government's National Institutes of Health, the most revered scientific institution in the nation.
The study was impressive in that it studied thousands of patients. And it was well designed, with placebo treatments and both patient and doctor being "blind" to which pill the patient was receiving.
But the message was clear: Take this very, very high dose supplement as outlined in AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) , and the chances of vision loss due to macular degeneration were reduced.
One week after the AREDS results were published, I filed corporate papers for Vitamin Science Inc and began the web site VisiVite.Com. It was the absolute infancy of the Internet. But we had our first product, VisiVite Original AREDS Formula.
Early on, it became my passion and that of the team that I surrounded myself with, to construct our supplements using only the country's premium laboratories, and to use safe natural ingredients whenever possible. Our first step toward fulfilling this mission was using Natural Vitamin E rather than Synthetic Vitamin E. Don't know the difference? Natural Vitamin E comes from plant oils, and contains only the letter "D" in the chemical name, whereas Synthetic Vitamin E contains the two letters, "DL" in the chemical name.
But there was a huge, glaring problem with VisiVite Original AREDS Formula. It contained beta-carotene, a form of Vitamin A with powerful antioxidant properties. And although beta-carotene has beneficial effects in most people, two large studies showed it was dangerous in a particular group of people - smokers - and that taking high doses of beta-carotene not only was not helpful, it increased the risk of lung cancer.
I spoke with several scientists and nutritionists, and researched alternatives for a vitamin that would be safe for smokers. Soon, we had launched VisiVite Smokers Formula, which substituted Lutein, another carotenoid, for beta-carotene. Although we were the first company in the world, and for nearly two years the only company in the world to offer a smokers formula for the treatment of macular degeneration, several companies soon copied our idea and formula.
The next step in our evolution was the continued study of the benefits of Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Although we had included Lutein in our VisiVite Smokers Formula merely to substitute for beta-carotene, the Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial showed that Lutein could actually improve vision in people with dry macular degeneration. And several studies of Zeaxanthin, a compound closely related to Lutein, actually improved color and pigmentation in the retina and might be the most powerful carotenoid available.
In early 2003, we brought to market what was then considered by many of the country's ophthalmologists to be the most advanced formula for the treatment of macular degeneration, VisiVite Plus Formula. It contained the AREDS ingredients, but then added Lutein, Bilberry and Selenium. This formula later evolved into VisiVite i-Defense Gold Formula (for non-smokers) and VisiVite i-Defense Green Formula (for smokers and former habitual smokers). These formulas each contained 15 mg of Lutein and 4.75 mg of Zeaxanthin. The levels of Zeaxanthin that we offered, and still offer in these formulas, were more than 500% higher than other manufacturers. But the science is now proving what we suspected - the levels of these two compounds were critical to their success in preventing the progression of macular degeneration and in improving vision in some (but unfortunately, not all) people.
In fact, we spoke in 2003 with some of the AREDS investigators about visual improvement that we were witnessing with these two premium formulas and were told that the AREDS research never looked at the "bad eyes with bad vision," but only looked to prevent vision loss in the "good eyes."
Now the National Eye Institute, as part of AREDS 2, is studying the benefit of these two compounds to improve vision in eyes with dry macular degeneration but vision of 20/100 or 20/200 to assess vision improvement.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin, in particular, are very expensive. In fact some manufacturers advertise their Zeaxanthin levels of 500 mcg (micrograms) while we list it as mg's (milligrams). So although 5000 mcg might seem like a lot of Zeaxanthin, it is only 10.5% as much Zeaxanthin as is found in our VisiVite i-Defense Gold and Green Formulas.
But some people couldn't rationalize the expense of these two premium eye formulas, so we created two intermediate formula, VisiVite i-Defense Yellow (for non-smokers) and VisiVite i-Defense Red (for smokers and former smokers). They contained the Lutein, but not the zeaxanthin. Nor did they create the other powerful antioxidants, such as Bilberry, Alpha lipoic acid, Grape Seed extract, and L-glutathione. Nevertheless, they proved to be among our best-sellers, because they were a great product at a great price, and an improvement when compared to the basic AREDS formulas.
There were two more products added to our VisiVite line, one a specialty item and one a ground-breaking item.
VisiVite i-Defense E-Free Formula was introduced specifically because people who take Coumadin, a blood thinner, could not take the Vitamin E in any of our other macular degeneration formulas. It assuaged the fear of many internists and family practitioners who might otherwise have recommended their patients not take an AREDS-like supplement.
The ground-breaking eye vitamin formula is VisiVite Premier Ocular Formula No. 2, based upon the latest research being performed by the National Eye Institute in the AREDS 2 Trial. This research specifically now includes ROPUFA Omega-3 oils as an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Vitamins C and E.
Tthe National Eye Institute is performing this study because the evidence for the added compounds has been overwhelmingly positive in newer research.
Because the evidence that now lists the benefits of Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 fish oils is overwhelmingly positive.
It took extra care to find a laboratory that would make these softgels to the level of expertise and quality that we were seeking. Like our main laboratory, this softgel laboratory is also GMP certified, the high bar of laboratory quality.
For nearly two years, we have been the only company world wide offering this unique supplement.
What else makes VisiVite special?
The staff at Vitamin Science Inc. share the singular vision that VisiVite products must be considered to be the worlds' leader for quality and distinction. We trust our GMP certified laboratories, but nevertheless send our supplements to be independently measured for purity and potency each and every time a new manufacturing lot is produced. Our customer service staff is second to none, and can answer even the most complex nutritional questions that our customers have.
Doctors are delighted with the quality and the benefit to their patients in obtaining the correct supplement at a fair price. And they are reassured by our use of natural ingredients and indendent laboratory testing of our products.