The color (pigmentation) of the retina, or lack thereof, is thought to play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The substance that provides pigmentation is melanin, and a precursor to the pigment melanin is called L-DOPA. Since L-DOPA converts into dopamine in the brain, it has been used as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Now, researchers have hypothesized that it may also delay the onset and progression of AMD.
In a study investigating over 15 million people, individuals taking L-DOPA were significantly less likely to develop AMD, and when they did, the age of onset was significantly later. These results suggest L-DOPA may be useful in both preventing and delaying the disease.
L-DOPA is processed as a drug for Parkinson’s patients, and it is also available in herbal extracts and in some types of beans, particularly broad beans.
Source: Inverse Association Between L-DOPA and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. (Abstract 2818-C0046, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, May 2015)