The development of a new supplement could mean that sight loss patients may be able to avoid having to undergo eye surgery.
Scientists from Queen's University in Belfast have made the breakthrough by creating an antioxidant drug that could reduce the rate of sight loss in the elderly.
The researchers found that taking nutritional supplements slowed the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Professor Usha Chakravarthy, from Queen's Centre of Vision and Vascular Science (CVVS), commented: "Late AMD causes severe sight loss and has a huge economic impact both in terms of the effects of sight loss itself and in terms of the expensive treatments that are needed to deal with the condition.
"These findings are important because this is the first randomised controlled clinical trial to document a beneficial effect through improved function and maintained macular pigments."
She added that further research would need to be undertaken to establish the validity of the findings of the experiment.
AMD occurs when the macula of the eye degenerates due to retina damage.